Necklace pendant

A piriform pierced-work pendant, outlined by a fine band of stamped dots and a slightly elevated edge to which five globules have been soldered at intervals. At the top is an integral, banded suspension loop. Occupying most of the surface is the representation of a bird (eagle), with head turned backwards above its back and holding in its talons a snake whose head is visible left. The raised wide-open wings are surrounded by a pierced-work dotted circle inscribed with a cross of Maltese type, which rests on the bird’s head. The pointed apex is decorated with a five-leaf palmette. The details are indicated by incisions and stamped dots.

The shape of the pendant and the technique of its decoration are encountered in the sixth and seventh centuries. There are similar examples in the Stathatos Collection (National Archaeological Museum), the Giamalakis Collection (Herakleion Historical Museum) and in other museums and collections. The Canellopoulos Museum pendant is outstanding for its refined and confident craftsmanship, as well as for the choice of iconographic subject, which although alluding to rhapsody I of the Iliad (eagle with snake), in Christian times symbolized the Resurrection (eagle with cross), as is attested by the decoration on Early Christian sarcophagi (Lateran Museum, Rome, and elsewhere).