The Art of Medieval Jewelry

An Illustrated History


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About the Book

What are the origins of the imagery and designs on common jewelry and portable artwork between late antiquity and the Middle Ages? These dynamic centuries encompass the transformation of the Greco-Roman world into the nascent kingdoms and medieval states upon which most modern European nations are based. The choices of jewelry and other forms of personal expression among the lower classes in ancient times is notoriously difficult to contextualize for a number of reasons. Nonetheless, these precious articles were expressions of individual identity as well as signifiers of rites of passage. As such, they reflect not only the people who wore them, but also the social milieu and artistic trends at that moment in time.

This new study assists in identifying the types, origins and routes of transmission of personal artwork, particularly finger rings, across Europe and Byzantium, an area of study that has been neglected in previous works. Some of this material represents the first time relevant research from Central and Eastern Europe has been translated and made available to the general reader in the English-speaking world.

About the Author(s)

T.N. Pollio is a researcher and historian who lives in East Haven, Connecticut.

Bibliographic Details

T.N. Pollio
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 191
Bibliographic Info: 229 photos, glossary, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2021
pISBN: 978-1-4766-8175-7
eISBN: 978-1-4766-4047-1
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments v
Preface 1
Introduction 3
Part I: Late Antiquity and the Migration Period 7
The Dark Ages  7
Hannibal ad Portas: the Barbarian Onslaught  9
Part II: The Diffusion of Jewelry Designs Since Late Antiquity 17
Part III: Difficulties in Dating and Identification 21
Part IV: Medieval Societies of Western Europe 24
Frankish and Germanic Kingdoms  24
Frankish Tribes  25
Germanic Tribes  26
Frankish and Germanic Ring Types  28
Scandinavian and ­Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms  33
Part V: Influences from Asiatic Cultures 43
Trade Routes Between Europe and Asia  43
Ancient Cultures of the Eurasian Steppe  45
Asiatic Origin of Certain Zoomorphic Motifs  52
“Saltovo” and Related Types from the Steppe  61
Kievan Rus and Kipchak Khanate  64
Part VI: The Roads Less Traveled: Central and Eastern Europe 68
Medieval and Modern States  72
The Successor States of the Former Yugoslavia  79
Notable Medieval Cultures  83
Part VII: Common Ring Types from Central and Eastern Europe 89
Religious Rings  91
Magical/Apotropaic and Geometrical Symbols  97
Ring and Dot Patterns  99
Heraldic and Pseudo-Heraldic Rings  101
Heater Shield, Flame and Heart-Shaped Designs  102
Fleur-de-lis  103
Portcullis and Similar Cross-Hatched Patterns  104
Star and Crescent  106
Sword and Arm  107
Avian and Zoomorphic Motifs  109
Architectural, Crowns and Similar Designs  111
Monograms, Merchant’s Marks and Personal Seals  112
Quatrefoil, Rosette and Similar Decorative Motifs  114
Plain Hoop and Twisted Wire Designs  117
Cast Types with Faux Gemstones  119
Part VIII: Anthropomorphic Rings from Central and Eastern Europe 121
Part IX: Slavic Stolovat and Similar Jewelry Types 139
Part X: Common Signet Ring Configurations 145
Part XI: Star and Floral Patterns 150
Glossary 155
Chapter Notes 171
Bibliography 177
Index 181