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Viking Silver Braided Bracelet, 10th Century AD

This is a gorgeous and highly wearable twisted silver bracelet, made to be worn by either a man or woman, and probably ultimately deposited in a hoard. Vikings hoarded precious metals, especially silver, to a great degree; for example, in Viking Scotland alone, we know of thirty-one Viking age hoards containing silver - and those are just the ones we know about - while Viking Ireland has nearly double that! Silver bracelets of all sizes were a huge component of hoards, and functioned as a wearable form of currency. This example is emblematic of the type.

Greek Gold and Garnet Bracelet, Hellenistic, 2nd Century BC

The most distinctive feature of this bracelet or armlet is the treatment of the outer surfaces of the hoops. Decorative elements are covered with a delicate network of filigree created by placing parallel rows of wire in a zigzag pattern and dotting the points of contact with granules. This unusual decoration is best paralleled in a few exceptional works from Thessaly. It is a rare forerunner of a popular kind of Roman bracelet featuring twisted hoops and hinged box settings decorated with gemstones.

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Viking Silver Cuff Bracelet, 10th Century AD

The Vikings - groups of people who left Scandinavia to plunder and colonize northern Europe (and who traveled as far afield as northeastern North America and the great kingdoms of the Middle East) - had a distinctive artistic tradition, although many of the metals that they had were acquired through conquest and the silver for this bracelet likely was melted down from other silver objects, perhaps some acquired by looting a monastery or trading in the Mediterranean. Silver jewelry also had the dual role of being a form of currency and possibly also ritual offerings - most of our knowledge of Viking jewelry comes from buried hoards.