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Gold jewelry

Gold jewelry

Gold jewelry


Gift of Jeannette and Jonathan Rosen, New York, to American Friends of the Israel Museum

Accession number:


Archaeology/Chalcolithic & Canaanite Periods

This important and rich collection of gold jewelry was made in Canaan in the Late Bronze Age, with gold from mines in the eastern desert of Egypt or from Nubia. The difference in color is due to the addition of other elements, such as silver, since ancient gold work was seldom pure gold. Gold has a high degree of malleability and a fairly high melting-point, allowing craftsmen to heat a piece to the glowing point, to create or add designs without risking damage. Relatively simple tools were effective in working this soft metal even in a cold state. Hammers, bronze chisels and puncheons, and various tracers of bone or ivory were commonly used. These were applied to sheet gold and gold wire. Sheet-gold was made by hammering a small bar, and it was finished by the sheet being beaten between two pieces of leather. Wire was also made from sheet-gold. A narrow strip was cut from a thin sheet, twisted spirally, then rolled between two polished stones or perhaps bronze plates. Granulation, another ancient technique, involves applying tiny granules of gold to the surface in order to create a visually pleasing, textured exterior in contrast to the smooth surrounding areas. Although Late Canaanite jewelry was receptive to various influences, principally from Egypt, the particular character of this jewelry is mainly fashioned in the Canaanite style.

From the Israel Museum publications:

The Israel Museum, Laurence King Publishing, 1995

Digital presentation of this object was made possible by:
The Ridgefield Foundation, New York, in memory of Henry J. and Erna D. Leir