A Greco/Roman Gold Pendant, Hellenistic Period, ca. 3rd - 1st century BCE
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High karat gold bullae such as this example would have been affordable only to members of the elite. Less expensive bullae were made of other materials, such as bronze and leather. Freeborn Roman male children wore bullae until they reached adulthood. In ancient Rome, a boy would receive a bulla eight days after his birth on the same day that he was given his name. This important festival marked the child’s acceptance into the family. It is possible that Roman boys wore their bullae only when they were outside their homes, at occasions when they would have been in contact with people beyond their kin group.
In addition to their bullae, Roman boys also wore the toga praetexta – a garment decorated with a broad purple stripe that was also worn by Roman magistrates. Together, the bulla and the toga praetexta visually declared a child’s status as a free Roman citizen. Cut from a single piece of sheet gold, the pendant has been folded at the suspension loop and the two convex discs pressed together. It has been strung on a modern solid gold chain.
Dimensions: Pendant length: 13 mm (0.5 inch). Strung on an adjustable 21-inch solid gold chain.
Condition: The pendant is intact and in very good condition overall.
Provenance: Ex. collection: Mr and Mrs Broukal, UK; acquired before 1956, then by descent.