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Adornment and use of ornaments and jewellery originated from beliefs or the need for adornment in the first ages and has reached our day as a tradition. Jewellery pieces designed living in small communities by tribes from natural materials obtained from their geographical environment in line with their own traditions, customs and habits have also become an integrated part of traditions with symbolic meanings and survived to our day.

Historical Background

The best jewellery objects of the highest quality in Anatolia were discovered in the tombs of princes in Troy, Eskiyapar and Alacahöyük and date back to 2600-2000 B.C. Findings from various regions of Anatolia dating back to the same period indicate the advanced level attained at that date by the people of Anatolia in terms of design and casting. The granulation and telkari (a method of fine wirework) techniques indicate more advanced jewellery work.

The Boğazköy (Hattusa) excavations revealed golden seal rings, golden “sitting goddess” amulet, golden satins covering the mouths and eyes of the dead and wrapped around their arms and legs in tombs and earplugs from the Hittite period. After 900 B.C., jewellery was produced with precious metals and stones in civilizations established in central and western Anatolia.

In the art of jewellery, the most important contribution of Phrygia, which dominated Central Anatolia in the second half of the 8th Century B.C., is fibula as an original form.

In Sardis, excavations unveiled carved ivory and golden jewellery processed in both precious and semiprecious stones with a successful technique and mastery with an emphasis on oriental motifs. Sardis, the capital of Lydia, was the first region where pure gold was chemically obtained in the late 8th and early 7th Century B.C. 

In the next two centuries, various jewellery techniques such as casting, repousse, filigree and granulation were used together in jewellery pieces produced with pure or near-pure gold. The most qualified examples of the peak centuries of the art of jewellery were discovered in the votive pit of the Temple of Artemis (Ephesus) and around Uşak.

The figure of Artemis, who unified the manner of worship in the Hellenic motherland and the mother goddess of Anatolia, also shaped the art of jewellery of the period. The three different characters of the goddess, namely the universal protector of civilization, the ruler of nature and the queen of bees, were embodied into bee, crescent and goshawk motifs.

In the same period, the Kingdom of Urartu ruled from the capital of Van between 900-600 B.C. and the works discovered in tombs of princes, temples, palaces and warehouses in the prominent cities of the Kingdom of Urartu, namely Altintepe, Patnos, Adilcevaz and Toprakkale , demonstrate the most beautiful examples of the granulation technique. This indicates the success gained by the people of Urartu as masters of this rather demanding jewellery technique.

Anatolian jewellery of the archaic and classic times was mostly produced via telkari and enamelling techniques.

After 545 B.C., then under the Persian domination, Anatolia once again blended the eastern and western cultures. The most striking feature of the period jewellery, the use of which was quite widespread in almost all areas of Anatolia, was their multi-coloured appearance attributed to the use of semi-precious stones and their glass imitations.

The jewellery works produced in the jewellery centres of the period, Sardis and Lampsakos on the Dardanelles, were mostly ornamented with triangle, diamond and triangular pyramid motifs.

Although during the archaic and classic ages, jewellery was almost always produced only as votives to temples and offerings to graves and rarely actually used, jewellery entered the daily lives of people in the Hellenistic period. Ornamented with abundant human and animal figures, the jewellery of the Hellenistic period was enriched via granulation and filigree. Hellenistic jewellery included such precious stones as emerald, ruby, agate, aquamarine, topazolite, carnelian, sard, plasma and amethyst. Motifs also changed with the frequent use of maenads and Eros, figures of black people and heads of such animals as lion, bull and deer. In this period, jewellery with the knot of Heracles was quite popular.

The Roman period between 200 and 400 A.D. witnessed the use of pearls, jasper and glass and the initiation of coloured inlaying. Roman jewellers advanced the craft further with stamping and niello work.

In the first periods of the Byzantine Empire, jewellery is applied in the continuation of the Roman art of jewellery in terms of form and technique. Enamel was added to flamboyant jewellery produced with precious and semi-precious stones and organic materials along with gold.

With original products that blend the traditions of the Roman and Hellenistic periods with Christianity,   Byzantine jewellery influenced both the West and the Seljuks and Ottomans, which occupied the land after them.

The most original among the different styles embraced by jewellery during its journey in Anatolia is the style brought around by Turkmen clans that arrived in this land along with the Seljuks. These works were produced with the simple tools of the traditional technology.

The Turkmen jewellery tradition is based on a very fine art form the roots of which are full of secrets yet to be discovered. The placement of precious stones, the geometric forms and the different ethnological meanings of each style reflect the originality of the Turkmen jewellery tradition.

In the Seljuk period, golden and silver jewellery was mostly produced in Konya and Alaiye. Until the period of the Ottoman Empire, all types of techniques were tried on metals, precious stones and ornamentation and various different forms were developed in Anatolia. With the historical and cultural richness inherited from this background, Ottoman jewellery also made use of the accumulation in the large geographical base occupied by the Empire and Hellenistic jewellery with ample human and animal figures was enriched with abundant use of granulation and filigree.

Despite its simplicity in the first periods, jewellery later became more and more flamboyant as an indispensable part of clothing.

Ottoman jewellery masters worked with such techniques as inlaying, knocking, carving, niello work, telkari, matting and nailing. The most significant feature of Ottoman jewellery was the diversity that reflected the pluralistic structure of the Empire. The freedom in the Ottoman Empire was embodied in the jewellery produced with a great harmony of contrasting colours in different styles in addition to the use of various different pieces together.   

Today, jewellery is produced with such basic materials as stones, metals, wood, bones and glass, as well as recycled materials and are examples shaped on the basis of this grand jewellery tradition and a strong cultural accumulation reflecting itself to our modern day.

The finesse of the jewellery techniques refined through thousands of years, the depth in details and the designs tracing back intersecting and metamorphosing cultures are the precious legacy inherited by jewellers of this land.






  Gülgün Köroğlu, Anadolu Uygarlıklarında Takı, Türk Eskiçağ Bilimleri Enstitüsü Yayınları; İstanbul, 2004,
    Yıldız Akyay Meriçboyu, Antikçağ'da Anadolu Takıları, Akbank Yayınları
    Anadolu Medeniyetleri Müzesi, Antik Takılar, Kültür Bakanlığı Yayınları, Ankara, 1999

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