Hellenistic Gold Oak Wreath, c. 4th-3rd Century BC
A Greek Hellenistic diadem wreath comprising numerous projecting sprays of sheet-gold oak leaves in two sizes with serrated edges and veins, a large central rosette with two smaller similar roundels flanking, laurel leaves to the rear with gold Heracles knot, the four intersections covered by miniature gold masks modeled in the round with varying expressions, and four more to the bands of the knot; each element affixed to a custom-designed display stand.
The most famous of such wreaths is the example from Vergina, (MacedoniaGreece) in the tomb of Philip II of Macedon, father of Alexander the Great. Similar wreaths have been found all over the Hellenistic world in funerary contexts, as far apart as Asia Minor, the Black Sea coasts and Magna Graecia. The Greek writer Demosthenes (384-322 BC) noted that gold wreaths were worn for religious ceremonies, and the inventories of Greek temples and sanctuaries record that they were left as dedications by local men and women, foreign visitors, officials approaching the end of their career, as well as foreign powers seeking a favorable relationship. The oak leaves may symbolize the power of Zeus, who was often represented by the oak tree. This is a finely detailed example of the type executed with great skill.