Jewelry is one of the things that we have in common today with our ancient ancestors. They help us to understand the social life of Antiquity. Browsing Turkey’s many museums, you can see countless rings, necklaces, bracelets, earrings, and more passed down from previous civilizations.
Made of gold, silver, precious jewels or stones, what makes these accessory pieces so valuable are actually their history. Can you imagine who wore them? Maybe a young girl on her wedding day, or a wealthy old woman strolling through the agora. Let’s take a look at some of the most beautiful examples of ancient jewelry displayed at Turkey's rich selection of museums.
The culture of jewelry is almost as old as human history and has evolved over a long period of time. Although the purpose, material, shape, and technology used in their production change according to the periods, each discovery of a jewel gives us very valuable information about the lifestyle of that culture. This necklace from the Niğde Museum is an example of the Neolithic Period when people started to settle. The way ancient societies used natural materials, reveals that they had an advanced understanding of art. You can visit this unique work at the Niğde Museum.
The increase in the quality of life led by some developments in the Bronze Age influenced jewelry culture as everything else. In particular, the discovery of bronze, an alloy of copper and tin, made a huge leap forward in jewelry making. Parallel to this process, ornamental stones and gold began to be used more frequently in jewelry. The earring in the photograph, one of the most beautiful examples of the age, shows us the high artistic skills of the period. You can see this work in the Kaman Kalehöyük Archaeology Museum.
The Urartian Kingdom, a unique civilization, was a powerful state in Asia Minor. Having a rather rich culture and art, Urartians stand out with their particular styles and techniques in jewelry making. One of the most important factors of this was their skills and the presence of abundant mineral deposits in the regions where they settled. Wearing jewelry was used to signify social status apart from its use for wealth, luck, and to garner admiration. You can visit one example of this with fine details and symbolic figures at the Van Museum.
The Hittites, one of the oldest civilizations of Anatolia, settled in regions rich in raw materials and as a result, they left us a wide variety of jewelry types. Some of these jewelry are hair ornaments, earrings, bracelets, necklaces, and rings. This finding proves that Hittites, who were very successful in all branches of art, were also skillful in handicrafts. You can visit this impressive piece of jewelry at the Çorum Museum.
Lydians, one of the ancient civilizations of Anatolia like the Hittites, are known for their creativity in many fields during their era. Thanks to their wealth, their opulent artistic designs are definitely worth seeing. The most well-known and fascinating example is undoubtedly the Croesus Treasure. You can visit the artifacts of this treasure, which belonged to the Lydian King Kroisos, in the Uşak Museum.
The Pontus Empire ruled on the Black Sea coast during the Hellenistic Period. Like others, the Pontus civilization has left behind countless artifacts. Perhaps the most interesting and magnificent of these works is the Treasure of Amesos. Located in the burial chambers of the Amisos Hills today, this treasure belonged to a person and his family who had one of the highest status in the Pontus Kingdom. There are many gold jewelry, pottery, glass, and marble works in the treasury. This artifact in the photograph is just one of the pieces of the treasure that shows us the richness and high processing techniques of the period. Other pieces of the Amesos Treasure are waiting for you at the Samsun Museum.
Ani Archaeological Site is a Silk Road settlement where you can see all the richness of the development of the Middle Ages in terms of urbanism, architecture, and art. This gold earring from Ani is just one of the original works that emerged due to the cultural diversity of the city. This earring, which shows the wealth and the fine workmanship of the period, is exhibited in the Kars Museum today.