Greek gold on display
Wednesday 22 June 1994
Three hundred items of 2,300-year-old Greek gold jewellery - much of it from the Hermitage, in St Petersburg, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, in New York - will be on display at the British Museum for the next four months. It is the first time that such an array of classical gold has been seen in Britain .
The exhibition illustrates the high level of craftsmanship throughout the Greek Mediterranean, but also reveals that the classical world's gold capital was, for a time, not in the Greek heartland but 600 miles north-east in what is now Ukraine.
The most spectacular items were made in or around the Greek city of Pantikapaion and the Crimea, for extremely wealthy (and at least partly Hellenised) Barbarian chiefs living near by.
Most of these masterpieces were probably paid for out of the ill-gotten gains of the slave trade. Pantikapaion, on the north coast of the Black Sea, was an important port for the export of slaves.
Barbarian tribes - mostly Scythians, from Ukraine - were a major source of slaves for the classical world. Indeed, Scythian slaves were purchased by democratic Athens for its state police to enforce its democracy.
Pantikapaion, on the very edge of the Greek world, was also favoured as a haven for Greek draft-dodgers. During the Peloponnesian Wars of the fifth century BC, Athens's chattering classes used to send their sons to the Crimea to avoid the fighting.
The major period for gold working in and around Pantikapaion appears to have been 350-250BC. Some of the Crimean gold jewellery also gives a rare insight into the life of the Barbarians (through images of warfare and horse-riding) but not of the Crimean Greeks.
Greek gold exhibition; British Museum; admission pounds 3.50 (concessions pounds 2).
As Voltaire once said, “Ice cream is exquisite. What a pity it isn’t illegal”
- 1 'Alien thigh bone' on Mars: Excitement from alien hunters at 'evidence' of extraterrestrial life
- 2 Mother fed her daughter tapeworms to make her skinny for pageant
- 3 Crystal Palace next manager latest: Palace consider Ally McCoist - EXCLUSIVE
- 4 Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome: 'Abort it and try again – it would be immoral to bring it into the world'
- 5 ALS ice bucket challenge co-founder Corey Griffin drowns, aged 27
'Alien thigh bone' on Mars: Excitement from alien hunters at 'evidence' of extraterrestrial life
West poised to join forces with President Assad in face of Islamic State
Pamela Anderson rejects ice bucket challenge because of ALS experiments on animals: 'Mice had holes drilled into their skulls'
James Foley 'beheaded': Isis video shows militant with British accent 'execute US journalist' – as hunt begins for killer
ALS ice bucket challenge co-founder Corey Griffin drowns, aged 27
Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome: 'Abort it and try again – it would be immoral to bring it into the world'
Scottish independence: English people overwhelmingly want Scotland to stay in the UK
Isis threat: Cameron wants an alliance with Iran
Michael Brown shooting: Chaos erupts on the streets of Ferguson after autopsy shows teenager was shot six times – twice in the head
Disgusting, frustrating, but intriguing: how the country really feels about its politicians
Bin bag full of cats' heads discovered near Manchester's Curry Mile
Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Market Administrator (1st line Support, Trade Fl...
£35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst (Windows, Active Dire...
Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Data Support Analyst (Linux, Solaris, Windows Se...
Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Helpdesk Support Engineer (Windows, MS Office, E...