Lecture Programme 2022
online lecture 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’.
AGM followed by
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.
Setting the record straight
This talk will cover changing ways in which gemstones were set in jewellery from the earliest times until the end of the Renaissance. These changes reflected aesthetic preferences, of course, but more particularly, advances in gem cutting technology. There was also fluctuating access to different gem types as trading patterns changed. When seen in this light, the history of gem-setting can be understood as a key part of jewellery and gem history, underlining that jewellery history must be seen holistically, a happy blend of art and technology.
Creative Clasps? The story of prehistoric brooches in Britain
Brooches first appear in Britain almost 2,500 years ago in the Iron Age. Their design, and the materials from which they are made, highlight oscillating relationships across the Channel and further afield. Theirs is a story of bronze, iron, glass and coral; a story of creativity and connections. In this presentation I will focus upon the craft of the brooches and the contexts in which they are found. By examining the detail of these small artefacts, we can explore the relationships between makers, wearers, the natural world and the archaeological story of pre-Roman Britain.
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.
It will NOT be available afterwards on the SJH website for copyright reasons.
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.
Links to previous Lecture Programmes