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Armlet

Armlet

  • Place of origin:

    Afghanistan (Oxus river in the Greco-Bactrian Kingdom, now in present day Aghanistan, made)

  • Date:

    300 BC-100 BC (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Gold

  • Museum number:

    442-1884

  • Gallery location:

    On display at the British Museum

This gold bracelet is part of the Oxus treasure, the most important collection of gold and silver to have survived from the Achaemenid period. Apart from this bracelet, the remainder of the treasure belongs to the British Museum.

The bracelets are similar to objects being brought as tribute on reliefs at the Persian centre of Persepolis. The Greek writer Xenophon (born around 430 BC) tells us that armlets were among the items considered as gifts of honour at the Persian court. The hollow spaces would have contained inlays of glass or semi-precious stones. The bracelets are typical of the Achaemenid Persian court style of the fifth to fourth century BC.

This object was bought by Captain F.C. Burton when he rescued a group of merchants who had been captured by bandits on the road from Kabul to Peshawar. They were carrying with them the Oxus treasure, which Burton helped them to recover, and so they allowed him to buy this bracelet before going on to sell the remainder of the pieces in Rawalpindi. It was from the bazaars of India that other pieces of the Treasure emerged, reaching the British Museum by a circuitous route.

Physical description

A curved armlet terminating in representations of fabulous monsters, possibly hippogriffs. Parts of the surface are hollowed out, and other parts fitted with clossons, formerly enriched with jewels or filled in with some kind of enamel.

Place of Origin

Afghanistan (Oxus river in the Greco-Bactrian Kingdom, now in present day Aghanistan, made)

Date

300 BC-100 BC (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Gold

Dimensions

Length: 4 7/8 in, Width: 4 5/8 in

Object history note

Found on the banks of the Oxus during the Afghan campaign of 1879-80.

Descriptive line

Armlet, gold, Greco-Bactrian Empire, 3rd or nd century BC

Production Note

Oxus treasure, made in the Greco-Bactrian Kingdom

Materials

Gold

Categories

Jewellery; Metalwork

Collection

Metalwork Collection

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