The Mycenaean Gold Collection


How much have humans really evolved, if the chief dudes and dudettes on the shores of the Mediterranean were sipping their water, wine or grape juice from these spectacular gold cups 3,000+ years ago, and today, the CEO of Microsoft is probably drinking his coffee from a Starbucks disposable cup with recycled cardboard “jacket”??? These cups, part of the spectacular Mycenaean Gold Collection at the National Archeaological Museum in Athens, were simply stunning. Gold is such a wonderful precious metal that it looked like these cups could have been hammered out or made just a few decades ago, or it might be something you would find in the windows of some over the top Italian silversmith like Buccellati, but in gold rather than silver…


And if the cups in the first photo were reserved for the Kings/Gods of the day, then perhaps these simpler ones (which I also find incredibly well designed) were for the minor princesses and assorted court wannabees of the day. But with gold conducting heat quite well, I wouldn’t want a cup of tea or coffee served to me in these cups or I might have to use a recycled cardboard collar to protect my hands from a burn…


Oh, and serve me my fruit salad in this vessel any day, do you what I mean? Hahaha. :) The opulence, the brilliance, the wonder that went into the design, manufacture and use of such stunning utensils for food and drink… it was worth a serious pause indeed. Let’s just say the Gods had it good.


And it wasn’t just the tableware that was stunning. This mask, referred to as “Agamemnon’s Mask” but which carbon dating places a millenia or so before that time, was equally amazing. I waxed poetic about the spectacular gold collection now on display at the Ayala Museum from the 10th-12th century, and these pieces are a good 2,000 years older than that, but flip back between the two collections and you will see a lot of similarities in the use of the gold and the techniques applied to create jewelry and other objects of desire…


The concept of “bling” obviously goes back 3-4,000 years in the history of man, with these elaborate gold beads adorning the ancient equivalent of today’s rap star celebrities…


Many of the items in this part of the museum were part of the The Mycenaean Gold Collection dug up from tombs at Mycenae in the mid-1800’s. Fabulous and worth the visit indeed.


5 Responses

  1. i love the detail on the jewelry! amazing work! i have seen similar Philippine artifact though… must be the way they did things before. each item is obviously crafted with so much care and attention to detail! no cutting corners or thinking about costs. thanks for the lovely photos :)

  2. What, the glitter of gold attracts fewer gazers than the nudes? Mmm could it be that Kenneth Clark was onto something with his insistence on a sensual element to every aesthetic experience?

  3. In the same vein: For those near Washington, DC there is a fabulous exhibit at the National Gallery of very old gold jewelry from Afganistan never before exhibited, found in 1939 and stored in the basement of the Afganistan Museum all these years through various wars and invasions.

  4. Just breathtaking indeed! Artisans and craftsmen abounded during those times. Their bling culture much more refined than ours.



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