Gold Neck Ring

6th–4th century B.C.
Made in Southern Russia or Black Sea Region (?)
Overall: 7 1/2 x 7 1/2 x 1/2 in., 1.102lb. (19 x 19.1 x 1.2 cm, 500g)
Credit Line:
Purchase, 2005 Benefit Fund, Rogers Fund, Audrey Love Charitable Foundation Gift, and Gifts of J. Pierpont Morgan and George Blumenthal and Fletcher Fund, by exchange, 2005
Accession Number:
  • Description

    This elegant and technically accomplished solid gold torque, which weighs more than a pound, is a superb example of the mastery of goldsmiths in Iron Age Europe. Such an imposing object would have been an emblem of status and power. Its excellent condition suggests that it might have served as a ritual offering or been placed in a tomb to accompany the dead into the afterlife. It may also simply have been deluxe jewelry. In about 50 B.C. the Roman historian Diodorus Siculus wrote that Celts in Gaul “gather gold that is used for ornaments not only for women but men as well, for they wear bracelets on their arms and wrists and also massive solid-gold collars around their necks.” The torque may have been made from a cast gold blank that was deeply incised or channeled along its length on four sides, evenly notched along some of the edges, and then twisted. Or it may have been constructed of four graduated square lengths of gold that were evenly notched and then twisted. Such techniques employing single or multiple strands of gold were used in several cultures in the first millennium B.C., but they were most widespread among the Celts, who populated much of western Europe.

  • Provenance

    Mr. O. P. Wenge, Bern, Switzerland (until 1978); Georges Brosi, Basel (1978-?); [ Ariadne Galleries, New York (sold 2005)]

  • See also