In the Hellenistic period, the Greek world enjoyed great prosperity
after Alexander the Great's conquest of the Persian Empire made
vast resources of gold available for the first time. The various
royal courts of Alexander's successors, including the Ptolemies in
Egypt, comprised a wealthy clientele with a taste for luxury.
The group of gold jewelry discussed here-including earrings,
finger rings, bracelets, beads, and a hairnet-consists of seventeen
spectacular pieces from the Getty Museum. The author takes us on a
journey through three centuries, beginning about B.C. 350, from the
empire-building Alexander to the beguilingly ambitious Kleopatra
VII. This sweep through the turbulent history of the eastern
Mediterranean gives a picture of the Greek-Egyptian blending of
religion and art. The author demonstrates how the symbolism of
dynastic power plays a central role in the interpretation of each
object and in understanding the assemblage as a whole. Discussing
their style, iconography, and craftsmanship, he convincingly places
the jewelry in late third-century-B.C. Ptolemaic Egypt and argues
for the original owner's royal connections.
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