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Belt with Central Medallion
Roman Empire (Place Created)
about A.D. 379–395
Gold, enamel, sapphire, emerald, garnet, and glass
79.1 cm (31 1/8 in.)
This ornate belt is composed of three elements: a central ornament, connecting links, and an adjustable hook fastening. A roughly circular gold setting forms the central medallion, which consists of a large triangular sapphire surrounded by emeralds, garnets, and green glass. Three pendant chains, now missing their original pearls, hang from the medallion. The back of the gold setting is decorated with a repoussé acanthus rosette. The connecting links of the belt are formed by twenty-three square gold settings holding gold coins framed by green glass. The coins were issued by several emperors in the late 300s A.D., the latest being issued by Theodosius I, who ruled from A.D. 379 to 395; they come from various mints in the eastern portion of the Roman Empire, probably indicating an eastern origin for the belt. Coins used for jewelry, especially pendants, became popular in the 200s A.D. Coin belts, however, were not common, and this is one of the earliest known examples.
Robin Symes, Limited, founded 1977, dissolved 2005 (London, England), sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1983.
The Screw Between Power and Splendor (April 8 to October 29, 1995)
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