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Jewelry has been a constant companion of man since dawn of early civilizations. It played different roles and functions during existence of mankind but it has always been an important accessory cherished by women and men in every part of the world.
History of jewelry starts in ancient times. Historians and researchers gain their knowledge about ancient jewelry mostly from pieces that were buried with dead centuries ago. Although this is only a small fraction of whole collection worn at past times, it is enough to learn about styles and techniques used by ancient people. Before people knew how to make jewelry and shape materials to manufacture decorative pieces, they used natural materials like: seeds, shells and berries. Hunters wore animal teeth and bones as pendants and necklaces which probably were believed to bring luck and protection during hunting. As human abilities to work with natural materials developed, stone became a popular material for jewelry making. Although variety of jewelry increased, different kinds of beads still remained the most common adornment.
About 4 000 BC people learned how to work with metals. Gold was chosen as principal material for jewelry production. It was valued for its ability to withstand fire, malleability, beauty and rarity. First it was obtained by panning the gravel from river beads. Later on it was extracted from quartz and eventually Romans developed open-cast and tunnel mining. Main decorative technique was embossing, process of creating three dimensional designs using thin sheets of gold and blunt stamps. Using of dies allowed production of many identical items and “mechanization” of the process.
During excavation of royal tombs at Ur, archaeologists discovered many pieces of gold jewelry buried about 2500 BC with the members of royal family and their accompanying servants. Jewelry decorated with semiprecious stones like agate, lapis or cornelian indicated fine skills of craftsmen who made the pieces. In Encyclopedia Britannica we can find description of jewelry found in tomb of Queen Pu-abi in Sumeria (now called Tall al-Muqayyar), one of the most magnificent examples of ancient jewelry. In the crypt the queen's body was covered with a sort of robe made of gold, silver, lapis lazuli, carnelian, agate, and chalcedony beads. She wore necklaces, a belt and a garter made of carved stone beads, large earrings and rings on every finger. Her head was decorated with complex headdress of gold leaves, gold ribbons and a tall comb of gold. Her sixty three attendants wore headbands decorated with golden leaves, finely crafted earrings, bracelets and necklaces. Inside the tomb, there were also many well-preserved items along with a cylindrical seal with her name on it in Sumerian- the world’s first written language. “Queen’s jewelry” is an example of the finest ancient jewelry. Another important discovery of ancient jewelry belongs to Heinrich Schliemann who in 1873 found well preserved collection at the site of ancient Troy.