Department of Antiquities

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Ancient Cyprus
in the Ashmolean Museum
  Highlights of the Collection: Cypriot Jewelery
  Cypriot Jewellery from the Archaic Period Page 1 of 3

During the Archaic Period on Cyprus (c. 750-500 B.C.) styles of jewellery and personal adornment were often very typically Cypriot. The most common form of personal adornment used during this period seems to have been spiral earings of solid metal, which were worn by both men and women. These spirals are found in varying sizes and metals, and some have elaborate ornaments. The simple spirals have 1½ turn, but examples with more turns are not unusual.

  The spirals rings on display at the Ashmolean are made of bronze, silver or gold-plated bronze. The combination of bronze and gold in jewellery was a Cypriot speciality. The metal of the silver spiral rings has corroded, and now presents an uneven dull grey surface - illustrating one major reason for the higher value of gold; i.e. gold does not corrode.
  These spirals are chunky, the diameter of the wire is 6mm. Because of this thickness it is debated whether they were used as hair adornment instead of as earrings. Both interpretations could be supprted by finds of spirals next to the head in graves.
However, the usage of the simple version of these spirals as earring by men is clearly seen on several limestone heads

  Limestone head of a man. Acquired by exchange.
(AN1911.351 not on display)
Limestone head of a man, from Golgoi. Gift of Prof. R.G. Collingwood.
(AN1938.348 not on display)
  Sets of two spirals corroded together have been found in graves, so apparently several spiral rings could be used at the same time. People would have worn the spirals in multiple piercings along the helix of the ear and through the earlobes.
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