The Ganymede jewelry: necklace, pair of earrings with figure of Ganymede and eagle, pair of bracelets with ram’s head, four fibulae, ring with emerald
Gold, rock crystal, emerald.
Ca. 330—300 BCE.
Inv. No. 37.11.8—17.New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Ganymede jewelry: necklace, pair of earrings with figure of Ganymede and eagle, pair of bracelets with ram’s head, four fibulae, ring with emerald.

Gold, rock crystal, emerald.
Ca. 330—300 BCE.
Inv. No. 37.11.8—17.

New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Private collection, Germany.
Private collection, Greece.
Said to be from near Thessaloniki (Richter 1937, p. 292).
Around 1913, collection of M. Ritsos;
1913 — purchased by F. L. von Gans from M. Ritsos, Thessaloniki, Greece;
1919 — purchased by Kurt W. Bachstitz from von Gans, Frankfurt, Germany;
1937 — purchased by Metropolitan Museum (Harris Brisbane Dick Fund) from Bachstitz, New York.

Ganymede jewelry

The pieces in this group are said to have been found together in Macedonia, near Thessaloniki, before 1913. The assemblage forms an impressive parure (matched set) — earrings, necklace, fibulae (pins), bracelets, and a ring — but it is not certain that they belong together, for the pieces do not show a clear uniformity of style.

The gold strap necklace, dated circa 300 B. C., is made of three double loop-in-loop chains with double interlinking and a fringe of beechnut pendants. The terminals take the form of an ivy or grape leaf and have a border of beaded wire and a rosette in the center. Strap necklaces have been found in many areas of the Greek world, including southern Italy, Asia Minor, and the Northern Pontus region (around the Black Sea).

The superb gold earrings, dated circa 330—300 B. C., consist of a large honeysuckle palmette below which hangs a finely worked three-dimensional figure of the Trojan prince Ganymede in the clutches of Zeus, who has assumed the guise of an eagle. Zeus coveted Ganymede for his beauty, and carried him off to Mount Olympos to be a cupbearer for the gods. The pendants are sculptural masterpieces in miniature, no doubt reflecting in their basic conception a famous large-scale bronze group of the same subject, made by Leochares in the first half of the fourth century B. C. The airborne theme is ingeniously adapted here to an object that hangs freely in space.

The rock-crystal hoops of the bracelets (ca. 330—300 B.C.) have been carefully cut, carved, and polished to produce a twisted appearance, highlighted by wire bindings fitted into the valleys. The rams’ heads emerge from long elaborate collars decorated with three friezes enclosed within bands of darts and bordered by plain beaded wire. The upper frieze, an ivy chain on a vine, is tied at the center with a Herakles knot and bears four bunches of grapes; the middle frieze has palmettes with pointed leaves; the third frieze, a palmette complex.

The two pairs of gold fibulae, of Macedonian-type, date to 330—300 B. C. Such fibulae (pins), which belong to a northern Greek type characterized by “paddle-wheel” decoration, were usually worn in sets of six. Two more matching fibulae have been identified, one in Berlin and one in the Gans collection. Each hinge plate, all produced with the same die, is decorated with the head of a woman wearing a lion skin. She can be identified as either Omphale, the queen of Lydia, wearing Herakles’ lion skin, or Artemis, goddess of the hunt.

The toothed setting of the gold ring holds a fine-colored but flawed cabochon emerald. A similar ring was found at Derveni in a tomb of the late fourth century B.C. Emeralds first appeared in jewelry at this time and probably came from mines in the eastern Egyptian desert, though it is possible that some came from the Ural Mountains.

Museum description (2021)

S1—S10. The Ganymede Jewelry

Gold necklace (S1), pair of gold earrings (S2—S3), pair of rock crystal bracelets with gold ram’s head finials (S4—S5), four gold fibulae (S6—S9), gold ring with emerald (S10).

Said to have been found in a tomb near Salonica several years before World War I.

Greek, late fourth century B. C.

S1: length 33 cm. (13 in.); S2—S3: height 5.5 cm. (2532 in.); S4—S5: height 7.7 cm. (3132 in.); S6—S9: height 4 cm. (1918 in.); S10: height 2.2 cm. (78 in.).

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Dick Fund, 1937. 37.11.8—17.

This very rich parure, presumably that of a woman, was found together in Macedonia sometime before 1913 and passed through several collections before it was acquired by The Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1937. These objects are among the finest pieces of Macedonian jewelry known. The gold necklace (S1) has a woven strap and is decorated with elaborate pendants and heart-shaped finials that form the clasp. The pair of gold earrings (S2—S3) belongs to a very small class of superbly crafted earrings that have sculptural pendants, comparable to the Nike earring in Boston and the pair from Pelinna in this exhibition (no. 72A). The subject of the New York earrings is Zeus, in the guise of an eagle, carrying off Ganymede. The two are not identical but pendants: in one the head of Ganymede is turned to the left; in the other it is turned to the right. The upper part of each earring, hiding the loop, is decorated with acanthus palmettes. Equally rare, if not rarer, is the pair of rock crystal bracelets (S4—S5) which terminate with gold finials of rams’ heads with much detailed ornamentation on the cuffs. The rock crystal is grooved spirally, with a fine gold wire running along the groove. The four gold fibulae (S6—S9) are very close in construction and style to the pair from Veroia in the catalogue (no. 55), with protomai of a horse and griffin on the catch plate and a female head, wearing the lion skin of Herakles (Omphale?) on the hinge plate. The pin, now missing, was probably of bronze. Lastly, the gold finger ring (S10) set with an emerald: could this precious stone, unknown in Greece before Alexander the Great, be a memento of his conquest of India?


R. Zahn in Amtliche Berichte (Berlin Museums) 35 (1913—14), col. 73;
Galerie Bachstitz 2 (1921), pp. 25 ff., pls. 22—23;
G. M. A. Richter in MMA Bulletin 32 (1937), pp. 290—295;
P. Amandry, Collection Hélène Stathatos I (1953), “Les Bijoux antiques” p. 88.

von Bothmer, Dietrich and Joan R. Mertens (1982)
Zahn, Robert. 1913. “Die Sammlung Friedrich Ludwig von Gans im Antiquarium”. Amtliche Berichte aus den königlichen Kunstsammlungen, 35: cols. 73—74.
Bachstitz, Kurt Walter and Dr. Robert Zahn. 1921. “Antike, byzantinische, islamische Arbeiten der Kleinkunst und des Kunstgewerbes, antike Skulpturen”. The Bachstitz Gallery Collection, 2. no. 91, pp. 25—27, pls. 22—23, Berlin.
Richter, Gisela M. A. 1937. “The Ganymede Jewelry”. Bulletin of the Metropolian Museum of Art, 32 (12): pp. 290—292, 294, fig. 2.
Grancsay, Stephen V. 1940. “The Art of the Jeweler: A Special Exhibition”. Bulletin of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 35 (11): p. 216.
Richter, Gisela M. A. 1953. Handbook of the Greek Collection. p. 156, Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.
Amandry, Pierre. 1963. Collection Hélène Stathatos: Ojets Antiques et Byzantins, Vol. 3. pp. 204, 208—209, fig. 113, d-f, Strasbourg: l’Institut d’archéologie de l’Université de Strasbourg.
Weber, Martha. 1976. “Zeus und Ganymed auf einem griechischen Handspiegel”. Mitteilungen des Deutschen Archäologischen Instituts, Athenische Abteilung, 91: p. 164 n. 63.
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Pfrommer, Michael. 1987. Studien zu Alexandrinischer und Grossgriechischer Toreutik frühhellenistischer Zeit, Archäologische Forschungen 16. p. 20 n. 86, Berlin: Mann.
Schwarzmaier, Agnes. 2000. “Nachklänge berühmter Meisterwerke auf griechischen Klappspiegeln”. From the Parts to the Whole: Acta of the 13th International Bronze Congress held at Cambridge, Massachusetts, May 28 — June 1, 1996, Carol Mattusch, Amy Brauer, and Sandra E. Knudsen, eds. p. 149 n. 33, Portsmith, R. I.: Journal of Roman Archaeology.
Woodford, Susan and Cambridge University Press. 2003. Images of Myths in Classical Antiquity. p. 120, fig. 88L, Cambridge.
Pandermalis, Dimitrios. 2004. Alexander the Great: Treasures from an Epic Era of Hellenism nos. 5a-e, pp. 123—25, New York: Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation (USA), Inc.
Picón, Carlos A. 2007. Art of the Classical World in the Metropolitan Museum of Art: Greece, Cyprus, Etruria, Rome. no. 197, pp. 170, 440, New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Picón, Carlos A. 2009. “Glass and Gold of the Hellenistic and Early Roman World”. Philippe de Montebello and the Metropolitan Museum of Art: 1977—2008, James R. Houghton, ed. p. 19, New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
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Metropolitan Museum of Art. 2020. ART = Discovering Infinite Connections in Art History. p. 186, New York: Phaidon Press.
(cc) 2021. Photo, text: The Metropolitan Museum of Art (CC0 1.0).
© 1982. Description (2): von Bothmer, Dietrich and Joan R. Mertens. 1982. The Search for Alexander: Supplement to the Catalogue. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art. P. 5, no. S1—S10.
Keywords: ελληνική μυθολογία mythologia graeca greek mythology mitologia greca griechische mythologie grecque ἄρτεμις dea artemis goddess artemide göttin déesse artémis γανυμήδης ganymede ganymedes catamitus ganimede ganymed ganymède ὀμφάλη ομφάλη omphale queen regina onfale omfale königin reine κόσμημα adornments abbellimento verzierungen bijou ελληνικό greco bracelet bracciale armband διάδημα diadema diadem diadème ring anello anneau gemstone finger con gemma edelstein fingerring gemme κολιέ torquis necklace collana halskette collier earring earrings orecchino orecchini ohrring ohrringe boucle d’oreille fibula fastener clasp brooch fibbia spilla fibel schließe fibule gold golden d’oro goldene goldener d’or d’ors χρυσός χρυσή χρυσό χρυσαφένιος χρυσαφένια χρυσαφένιο lion skin pelle di leone löwenhaut haut peau du δέρμα λιονταριού punch and granulation technique granules tecnica punzonatura e granulazione granuli stempeltechnik granulationstechnik granulat de poinçonnage et τεχνική διάτρησης και κοκκοποίησης κόκκων κοκκίδωση emerald smeraldo smaragd émeraude smaragdus σμάραγδος σμαράγδι from thessaloniki da salonicco aus saloniki thessalonique thessalonica θεσσαλονίκη σαλονίκη head of ram testa ariete widderkopf tête bélier filigree filigrana filigran filigrane pendant pendants twisted wire filo intrecciato verdrillter draht fil torsadé strap rock-crystal cristallo rocca bergkristall cristal roche abduction ratto rapimento entführung von enlèvement the eagle l’aquila und der adler l’aigle jewelry pair with figure bracelets ram’s four fibulae inv no 37 11 8 17 9 10 12 13 14 15 16