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.
THIS LECTURE WILL NOW BE ZOOM ONLY
Jewels at the Court of Henry VIII
Henry VIII’s posthumous inventory contained thousands of sumptuous jewels and precious stones and in some ways we know more about them than we do about his gold and silver plate because of their depiction in royal portraits. But the term ‘jewel’ did not only apply to items of adornment. The finest plate was often set with gems and two of the four surviving pieces of goldsmith’s work known to have belonged to the king – the clock salt in the Goldsmiths’ Company Collection and a mounted rock-crystal bowl in Munich – are exactly what would have been described at the time as ‘jewels’.
Jewellery and power in Iron Age Kazakhstan
During the 1st millennium BCE, the Saka-Scythians of East Kazakhstan built monumental burial mounds on the grassy expanse of the steppe. In these mounds they buried elite members of their society with thousands of gold adornments. From microscopic beads to weighty torcs, the largely nomadic Saka expressed wealth and power through adorning their bodies and those of their horses, who often died with them. Power and status, however, are determined by the living. This talk will draw on material from the ‘Gold of the Great Steppe’ exhibition at the Fitzwilliam Museum (opening September 2021) to explore the clues to Saka social, cultural, and economic life as expressed through their jewellery.
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
Gonçalo de Vasconcelos e Sousa
TBA - An aspect of Portuguese jewellery
The late 14th-Century Royal Crown of Blanche of Lancaster
A richly bejewelled crown preserved in the Treasury of the Munich Residence offers a window into aspects of both the broader world of European dynastic history and the narrower field of decorative practices and gemstone use. The crown’s history can be traced from the late 14th-century court of Richard II and his wife Anne of Bohemia in London to its role as part of the dowry in 1402 of Blanche of Lancaster, bride of the future Elector Palatine Louis III. The gem materials decorating the piece, one of few extant examples of Late Middle Ages royal regalia, were determined to be blue sapphires, pink sapphires, pink spinels, garnets, emeralds, diamond octahedra, and pearls. Several types of imitations for green and pink gemstones and diamonds were present as well. The forms of the stones also reflected the transition in fashioning occurring as the Late Middle Ages gave way to the Renaissance.
Maria Filomena Guerra
Fresh scientific insights in ancient Egyptian gold technology
This lecture on ancient Egyptian jewellery celebrates the centenary of the discovery of Tutankhamun’s Tomb
This presentation aims to shed new light on gold jewellery from ancient Egypt by considering the results obtained by various scientific techniques which provide fresh insights into its production. The talk will discuss what science can tell us about the technology of Egyptian jewellery dated to end of the Second Intermediate Period – early 18th Dynasty. The results presented are from the group of jewellery excavated at Qurna by Flinders Petrie, the gold armband from the burial of Kamose found by A. Mariette, several pieces bearing the name of Ahhotep or related to Nubkheperra Intef, and others from excavations at Qau by G. Brunton, and at Abydos by J. Garstang. Workshop practices in ancient Egypt will also be discussed.
The jewellery of the Nizam of Hyderabad
online lecture only
Links to previous Lecture Programmes