Current Lecture Programme
Tuesdays at 6:00pm. Members and Guests.
Society of Antiquaries of London, Burlington House, Piccadilly W1J 0BE
All lectures from March - June 2020 were postponed due to the corona virus lockdown. From September 2020 - June 2021 lectures were resumed but were only available live online via zoom, and posted subsequently on the
SJH website for members unable to view on the night.
Since September 2021 we have resumed live lectures at Burlington House, which will be made available online simultaneously and posted on the website afterwards. All members are sent an email with details of how to login in advance of each lecture. Please let the Membership Secretary know if you would like to be added to the list at
If you missed a lecture, you can access past lectures
here (members only).
Lectures are restricted to members and their guests. It is not normally necessary to inform the Society that you will be atttending, but if attendance is expected to be exceptionally high the Society will inform members well in advance if booking a seat is a
requirement of attendance at a particular lecture.
If you are not a member, and would like to attend a lecture as a guest of the Society, click here to send your name, contact details, and the subject of the lecture you would like to attend. We will confirm your attendance by email. The Society welcomes new members. If you are interested in joining the Society further details can be given to you when you attend the lecture.
New research on beads
Two speakers will each present a 30-minute paper about recent research - see following details.
Gold Saka microbeads: Early Iron Age luxury in the Great Steppe
Iron Age Saka microbeads became a well-deserved star of the “Gold of the Great Steppe” exhibition at the Fitzwilliam Museum (Cambridge) last year, fuelling debate among members of the public and specialists about their manufacturing technologies. Being truly micro - the diameter of some do not exceed 1 mm - they seemed to play a significant role in Saka society, and were manufactured in their thousands. Considering the amazing variety of their shapes, meticulous manufacturing technologies and their massive production at the Iron Age steppe amazingly little is known about them outside of Kazakhstan. Through my presentation, I will show you the beauty of Saka microbeads, and explore their production and use.
Not Just Jewellery: Glass bead technology, economy, and artistic expression in Ile-Ife, Nigeria
Glass beads are luxury objects that commanded great importance in early West African societies. Archaeological excavations at Igbo Olokun, Ile-Ife, SW Nigeria, yielded several thousand glass beads from a context dated to the 11th -15th centuries. The association of the glass beads with production waste suggests production at the site. The assemblage provides a new insight on the complete sequence of glass bead making, from glass making to bead making, in medieval West Africa. This talk will discuss the stages of production and the technology of the glass. Mass-production of glass beads, for the first time, introduced West African-made glass beads into the regional and long-distance economy. The proliferation of glass beads in early Ile-Ife inspired a bead culture that was expressed in the arts and culture of the Yoruba people of southwestern Nigeria.
Minakari: Where Flowers Bloom. The History & Art of Enamelling in India
online lecture only
Enamelling, in the context of jewellery, is a method of decorating the surface of gold, silver and even copper with powdered glass that is then fired, so that it melts and adheres to the metal. This art entered India from Europe in the sixteenth century, as a consequence of the establishment of direct contact with the Europeans, coterminous with the arrival of the Portuguese, and the conquest of Goa in 1510. However, it was neither a single one-time entry, nor was it from a single point of origin. From Spain and Portugal, Germany and the Netherlands, Italy, Paris and London, the enamel road led to centres in the Deccan and to ateliers in North India. The Indian craftsman then married technique and colour in his own inimitable style and interpreted the art form in distinctive idioms.
Drawing upon surviving examples, the transfer of the art of enamelling across cultural boundaries and its reinterpretation in the local idiom, is the focus of this talk.
postponed from 22 March 2022
Jewels captured in perpetuity: the jewellery book of Anne of Bavaria.
In 1843, the Bavarian king Ludwig I (r.1825-1848) gifted the Bavarian State Library an illuminated manuscript – the Kleinodienbuch der Herzogin Anna von Bayern. Beautifully executed and remarkable for its contents, this work is a pictorial inventory of the jewels that belonged to Albrecht V (1528-1579), Duke of Bavaria, and his wife Anna (1528-1590). Among the 108 illuminations painted by the court painter Hans Mielich (1516-1573) are depictions of 71 items of jewellery owned by the Duke and Duchess. Only one object of this corpus survives – a collar of the Order of St George – but the importance of this manuscript is undeniable. It securely dates a variety of jewels, ranging from hat ornaments and pendants to bracelets and even a fan holder, to the middle of the sixteenth century and links them to their elite owners. The inventory reveals much more than written inventories or portraits alone can. This paper presents the Mielich inventory and situates some of the jewels in their social and historical context, to highlight how important these small-scale objects were to the men and women who owned and wore them
President’s lecture - title TBA
History of Hatton Gardens
Insight into early medieval elite jewellery from Bohemia
Contemporary maker talking about his own work
Greek and Latin inscriptions on Antique Engraved Gems and Rings (Greek, Etruscan, Roman)
Lecture prevented from delivery at the SJH 'Texts' conference by traffic close-down
Inscriptions first appeared on Archaic Greek seals in the middle of the 6th century BC, and later found echo on Etruscan scarabs. Classical and Hellenistic Greek gems, as well as Italic and especially Roman intaglios, inherited from this double epigraphical lineage but diversified the forms and types.
On Graeco-Roman engraved gems and rings, there is a rather wide variety of Greek and Latin inscriptions, which present different configurations (formula, term, abbreviation, initial letter) and epigraphical particularities (crasis, monogram, abbreviation by contraction or suspension, nexus, letters switched, reversed – boustrophedon – or written into each other as so-called ligature). Even more noteworthy, these inscriptions can be classified between very many types of different natures : name of the bearer (duo or tria nomina, diacritic name or ὄνομα, designation referring to some slave or freedman, partial indication of the cursus honorum), dedication, acclamation, commemorative inscription, eulogy, invocation, prayer, addition to the engraved iconographic theme (didascalie), salutation, wish of good omen, prophylactic or apotropaic formula, confirmation of votive gift (ex-voto), loving or friendly motto, marriage and religious symbolism, numeral, trade mark or signature of the engraver, intrinsic function of the gem (seal, gift), legal norm and, finally, combination of ideographic and linguistic elements.
Presenting an overview as exhaustive as possible, the lecture shall bear witness to the wealth of inscriptions on Graeco-Roman gems and rings.
Jewellery from Anglesey Abbey
Links to previous Lecture Programmes