The techniques of Byzantine gold jewelry

The museum has a large collection of gold Byzantine ornaments, dating from the 4th to the 15th centuries. They have been made with a variety of techniques, which unfortunately remain poorly understood.

To document, study and understand the techniques of Byzantine gold-smiths, we have started a research project, in collaboration with the Byzantine and Christian Museum of Athens (archaeologist in charge: Sophia Gerogiorgi), the goldsmith and research of ancient gold-working techniques Akis Goumas, and the goldsmith and research of Trier University (Germany) Biljana Klekaschoska. Our research focuses on finger rings, crosses and ornaments -mostly earrings- with pierced decoration. It includes bibliographic research, macroscopic and microscopic examination of the objects, as well as selected archaeometric analyses.

The project aims to improve our understanding of the technology of Byzantine gold jewelry. By studying the traces left on the gold surface by the tools or the techniques used by Byzantine goldsmiths, we try to reconstruct the successive stages of manufacture of each ornament. At the end of the project, we will reconstruct experimentally a number of ornaments, using the tools and techniques identified during the study of the original objects – and their comparison with the originals. The results of the study will be published by the members of the team.




Byzantine gold earring, and microscopic study of its technical details at the Museum Laboratory.