DETAIL: A substantial, well constructed Roman bronze band with very masculine and handsome features. The construction is that of a simple band clearly cut from flat bronze stock, it has the look of hammered bronze. Obviously as you can see it is a little more than a simple band, as it does incorporate a large oval bezel, all part of the same piece of bronze. It also features overlapping bands at the back, which at the time it was created would have formed an “adjustable” ring. However ancient metal tends to crystallize and become inflexible, and though the ring was “adjustable” when it was originally created, fifteen or sixteen centuries later the ring size is pretty much fixed, there’s little “flex” left in the bronze bands.
Very simple, rather uncommon to the time, the ring remains in very good condition. Rather than the more archaic style of producing band and bezel separately and then attaching them together, this ring is constructed of a single piece of bronze, albeit cut from flat, hammered bronze sheet rather than molded from molten bronze. In a way, this accentuates the ring’s timeless design and modern flavor. There are clear indications that the ring was worn during an ancient lifetime long past. However this should not be a source for disappointment. You must keep in mind that the ring was produced by an artisan and sold to a patron or consumer with the idea that the ring would be enjoyed and worn by the purchaser. And without any regard to twenty-first century posterity, that precisely what happened! The original Roman owner of this ring wore it, enjoyed it, and probably never could have in his most delusional moment ever dreamed that almost 100 generations later the ring would still exist.
It should likewise come as no surprise that upon close inspection are detected the telltale signs that the ring spent thousands of years in the soil. Porosity is fine surface pitting (oxidation, corrosion) caused by extended burial in caustic soil. Many small ancient metal artifacts such as this are extensively disfigured and suffer substantial degradation as a consequence of the ordeal of being buried for millennia. It is not at all unusual to find metal artifacts decomposed to the point where they are not much more substantial than discolored patterns in the soil. Actually most smaller ancient artifacts such as this are so badly oxidized that oftentimes all that is left is a green (bronze) or red (iron) stain in the soil, or an artifact which crumbles in your hand.
However this specimen is not so afflicted, and certainly has not been disfigured. Even to close inspection, it simply looks like an ancient ring, nicely surfaced, no immediately discernible blemishes. You have to look very closely, such as with a jeweler’s loupe or in these photo enlargements, to detect the telltale signs indicating the ring was buried for millennia. This ring spent almost 2,000 years buried, yet by good fortune there is only an exceptionally light degree of porosity evidenced. It happened to come to rest in very gentle soil conditions. Consequentially, the integrity of the artifact remains undiminished, and despite the wear, the rings remains quite handsome, and entirely wearable.
The ring has a very nice medium bronze, almost golden tone very characteristic of ancient bronze. The ring is quite sturdy and substantial, its integrity is undiminished by the passage of time, and it has been professionally conserved. There are no cracks, chips, or other impairments to its integrity. The Romans were of course very fond of ornate personal jewelry including bracelets worn both on the forearm and upper arm, brooches, pendants, hair pins, earrings intricate fibulae and belt buckles, and of course, rings. This is an exceptional piece of Roman jewelry, a very handsome artifact, and eminently wearable. Aside from being significant to the history of ancient jewelry, it is also an evocative relic of one of the world’s greatest civilizations and the ancient world’s most significant military machines; the glory, might and light which was the “Roman Empire”.
ROMAN HISTORY: One of the greatest civilizations of recorded history was the ancient Roman Empire. In exchange for a very modest amount of contemporary currency, you can possess a small part of that great civilization in the form of a 2,000 year old ancient Roman artifact. The Roman civilization, in relative terms the greatest military power in the history of the world, was founded in the 8th century (B.C.). In the 4th Century (B.C.) the Romans were the dominant power on the Italian Peninsula, having defeated the Etruscans and Celts. In the 3rd Century (B.C.) the Romans conquered Sicily, and in the following century defeated Carthage, and controlled the Greece. Throughout the remainder of the 2nd Century (B.C.) the Roman Empire continued its gradual conquest of the Hellenistic (Greek Colonial) World by conquering Syria and Macedonia; and finally came to control Egypt in the 1st Century (B.C.)
The pinnacle of Roman power was achieved in the 1st Century (A.D.) as Rome conquered much of Britain and Western Europe. At its peak, the Roman Empire stretched from Britain in the West, throughout most of Western, Central, and Eastern Europe, and into Asia Minor. For a brief time, the era of “Pax Romana”, a time of peace and consolidation reigned. Civilian emperors were the rule, and the culture flourished with a great deal of liberty enjoyed by the average Roman Citizen. However within 200 years the Roman Empire was in a state of steady decay, attacked by Germans, Goths, and Persians. The decline was temporarily halted by third century Emperor Diocletian. In the 4th Century (A.D.) the Roman Empire was split between East and West. The Great Emperor Constantine again managed to temporarily arrest the decay of the Empire, but within a hundred years after his death the Persians captured Mesopotamia, Vandals infiltrated Gaul and Spain, and the Goths even sacked Rome itself. Most historians date the end of the Western Roman Empire to 476 (A.D.) when Emperor Romulus Augustus was deposed. However the Eastern Roman Empire (The Byzantine Empire) survived until the fall of Constantinople in 1453 A.D.
In the ancient world valuables such as coins and jewelry were commonly buried for safekeeping, and inevitably the owners would succumb to one of the many perils of the ancient world. Oftentimes the survivors of these individuals did not know where the valuables had been buried, and today, thousands of years later caches of coins and rings are still commonly uncovered throughout Europe and Asia Minor. Throughout history these treasures have been inadvertently discovered by farmers in their fields, uncovered by erosion, and the target of unsystematic searches by treasure seekers. With the introduction of metal detectors and other modern technologies to Eastern Europe in the past three or four decades, an amazing number of new finds are seeing the light of day thousands of years after they were originally hidden by their past owners. And with the liberalization of post-Soviet Eastern Europe, new markets have opened eager to share in these ancient treasures.
HISTORY OF ANCIENT ROMAN MOESIA:The Roman Province of Moesia was founded around 44 B.C. in an area which is now Serbia and Bulgaria. Ethnically the Moesians were Thracian and Illyrian tribes who had settled in the country of Moesi. Roman history records little about them until during the reign of Augustus. In 75 BC C. Scribonius Curio, proconsul of Macedonia, had taken an army as far as the Danube and gained a victory over the inhabitants. Under Augustus, Marcus Licinius Crassus was sent to bring the native populations under control. He succeeded in conquering the peoples in 30 B.C. Moesia became a Roman Province in 6 A.D. The relationship between the Roman Empire and the Moesians was a symbiotic one. Rome stimulated agriculture and commerce, raised the standard of living, and encouraged city life. Roman peace provided for the transmission of Greek culture and art. In exchange, the Moesians provided a supply of grain for the Romans. The native inhabitants also supplied men for the defense of the Roman Empire.
In the reign of Domitian (85-86 A.D.) the province was split into Moesia Superior and Moesia Inferior. The River Ciabrus (Tsibritsa) served as the boundary between the two. The east coast of Moesia was on the Black (Euxine) Sea. The Danube River, along with its tributaries, the Drinus (Drina) and the Margus (Morava) Rivers, ran through the province. Moesia was a Roman military stronghold because it lay on the Black Sea and the Danube ran through the province. Moesia's location was on the edge of the Roman Empire, connecting the Roman Procines of Thrace and Pannonia, which was why there existed a significant roman military presence. The Roman Legions posted to Moesia Superior had the main role defending Macedonia and the trade routes between Thrace and Pannonia. The Roman legions posted to Moesia Inferior had a similar role in defending Thrace and the imperial interests at the intersection of the Black Sea and the Danube River. The main threat to the Roman Legions defending these provinces were the Goths and Germanic tribes, as well as the Scythians and Sarmatians.
Moesia never was fully Romanized because there was constant movement of the native tribes. The objective of the Roman Empire was fully to exploit the natural resources that Moesia had to offer. Those natural resources included gold and other minerals. Along with the precious natural resources, Moesia was rich in farmlands. Ti. Plautius Silvanus Aelianus was the first governor (57-67 A.D.) to add to the grain supply of Rome a great quantity of Moesian wheat. In addition to the farmlands, there was a vast amount of pasture land and orchards. The chief towns of Upper Moesia were Singidunum (Belgrade), Viminacium (Kostolac), Remesiana (Bela Palanka), Bononia (Vidin) and Ratiaria (Archar). Of Lower Moesia: Ulpia (Gigen), Novae (Svishtov), Nicopolis ad Istrum (near the river Jantra), Odessus (Varna) and Tomi (Constanta). The poet Ovid was banished to Tomis in 9 A.D., and lived there until his death in 17 A.D.. Ovid was not fond of Tomis, or Moesia for that matter. He described the inhabitants as barbarians. Most of the disdain in letters was probably exaggerated but he was unhappy about being exiled so far from Rome. He complained that the farmers could not plow their fields without bringing their weapons into the fields with them such was the seriousness of the threat from the Goths and the Germanic tribes.
The ancient city of Tomis is still exists beneath the modern city of Constanza. Archaeological excavations had recovered include statuary (including the god of the Black Sea “Pontus”, and “Glycon” the sheep-headed snake-god), coins, the "Mosaic Building” (a three-story commercial complex which included warehouses filled with intact amphorae, and a large bath house. In 378 A.D. an army of Visigoths, Ostrogoths, and some non-Germanic Alans defeated the Roman Emperor Valens in a great battle near Adrianople around 378 A.D. setting the stage for the final collapse of the Western Roman Empire. Eventually Moesia passed out of Roman control around 395 A.D. when Emperor Theodosius died. Rome was no longer able to defend the frontier borders, and frequent attacks by the Goths led to the complete disintegration of the province. In the 7th century Slavs and Bulgars entered the country and founded the kingdoms of Serbia and Bulgaria.
HISTORY OF BRONZE: Bronze is the name given to a wide range of alloys of copper, typically mixed in ancient times with zinc, tin, lead, or arsenic. The discovery of bronze enabled people to create metal objects which were better than previously possible. Tools, weapons, armor, and building materials made of bronze were harder and more durable than their stone and copper predecessors from the “Chalcolithic” (the “Copper Age”), i.e., about 7000-3500 B.C., and the Neolithic (“New Stone Age”), i.e. about 12000 to 7000 B.C.). Of particular significance were bronze agricultural implements, tools for cutting stone, and weapons. Culturally significant was bronze statuary, particularly that of the Romans and Greeks. The ancient Greeks and Romans had a long history of making statuary in bronze. Literally thousands of images of gods and heroes, victorious athletes, statesmen, and philosophers filled temples and sanctuaries, and stood in the public areas of major cities. In fact, the Statue of Zeus at Olympia and the Colossus of Rhodes are two of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
Initially bronze was made out of copper and arsenic. It was only later that tin was used, becoming (except in ancient Egypt) the sole type of bronze in the late 3rd millennium B.C. Tin-alloyed bronze was superior to arsenic-alloyed bronze in that the alloying process itself could more easily be controlled, the alloy was stronger and easier to cast, and unlike arsenic, tin is not toxic. Toxicity was a major factor in the production of arsenic bronze. Repeated exposure to arsenic fumes ultimately led to nerve damage in the limbs. Evidence of the long agony of Bronze Age metalsmiths came down to the ancient Greeks and Romans in the form of legend, as the Greek and Roman gods of metalsmiths, Greek Hephaestus and Roman Vulcan, were both lame. In practice historical bronze alloys are highly variable in composition, as most metalworkers probably used whatever scrap was to hand. In one instance of ancient bronze from Britain, analysis showed the bronze to contain a mixture of copper, zinc, tin, lead, nickel, iron, antimony, arsenic, and silver.
Other advantages of bronze over iron include that bronze better resists corrosion, particularly seawater corrosion; bronze resists metal fatigue better than iron; and bronze is a better heat conductor (and thus is better suited for cooking vessels). However ancient bronze, unless conserved properly, is susceptible to “bronze disease”, wherein hydrochloric or hydrosulfuric acid is formed due to impurities (cuprous chloride or sulfur) found within the ancient bronze. Traditionally archaeology has maintained that the earliest bronze was produced by the Maikop, a proto-Indo-European, proto-Celtic culture of Caucasus prehistory around 3500 B.C. Recent evidence however suggests that the smelting of bronze might be as much as several thousand years older (bronze artifacts dating from about 4500 B.C. have been unearthed in Thailand).
Shortly after the emergence of bronze technology in the Caucasus region, bronze technology emerged in ancient Mesopotamia (Sumer), Egypt, the Indus Valley Civilization of Northern India, the Aegean, the Caspian Steppes (Ukraine), the Southern Russia/Central Mongolia Region (the Altai Mountains), the Levant (Eastern Mediterranean), Anatolia (Turkey) and the Iranian Plateau. By the late third millennium B.C. many Western European Bronze Age Cultures had emerged. Some of the more notable were the Celtic cultures of Middle Europe stretching from Hungary to Poland and Germany, including the Urnfield, Lusatian, and (Iron Age Transitional) Hallstatt Cultures.
The Shang in ancient China also developed a significant Bronze Age culture, noted for large bronze burial urns. The ancient Chinese were the first to cast bronze (using the “lost wax” technique) about 2200 B.C. Prior to that time all bronze items were forged. Though weapons and utilitarian items were produced in great numbers, the production of bronze in ancient China was especially noteworthy for ornamented ritualistic/religious vessels (urns, wine vessels, water pots, food containers, and musical instruments), many of immense size.
Britain’s Bronze Age cultures included the Beaker, Wessex, Deverl, and Rimbury. Copper and tin ores are rarely found together, so the production of bronze has always involved trade. Cornwall was one of the most significant sources of tin not only for Britain, but exported throughout the Mediterranean. Other significant suppliers of tine were the Taurus Mountains of Anatolia (Turkey), as well as Spain. Enormous amounts of copper was produced from the Great Orme mine in North Wales, the island of Cyprus, the European Alps, and from the Sinai Peninsula and other nearby sites in the Levant. Though much of the raw minerals may have come from Britain, Spain, Anatolia, and the Sinai, it was the Aegean world which controlled the trade in bronze. The great seafaring Minoan Empire (about 2700 to 1450 B.C.) appears to have controlled, coordinated, and defended the trade.
Tin and charcoal were imported into Cyprus, where locally mined copper was mined and alloyed with the tin from Britain. Indicative of the seafaring trade in the Eastern Mediterranean, a shipwreck from about 1300 B.C. off the Turkish coast revealed a ship carrying a ton of copper ingots, several dozen small tin ingots, new bronze tools, scrap metal, and a blacksmith's forge and tools (along with luxury trade goods from Africa). It appears that the Bronze Age collapsed with the fall of Minoan Empire, to be replaced by a Dark Age and the eventual rise of the Iron Age Myceneans (on mainland Greece). Evidence suggests that the precipitating event might have been the eruption of Thera (Santorini) and the ensuing tsunami, which was only about 40 miles north of Crete, the capital of the Minoan empire.
Some archaeologists argue that it was Santorini itself which was the capitol city of the Minoan World. However where Crete or Santorini, it is known that the bread-basket of the Minoan trading empire, the area north of the Black Sea lost population, and thereafter many Minoan colony/client-states lost large populations to extreme famines or pestilence. Inasmuch as the Minoans were the principals of the tin/copper shipping network throughout the Mediterranean, the Bronze Age trade network is believed to have failed. The end of the Bronze Age and the rise of the Iron Age is normally associated with the disturbances created by large population disruptions in the 12th century B.C. The end of the Bronze Age saw the emergence of new technologies and civilizations which included the large-scale production of iron (and limited scale production of steel).
Although iron was in many respects much inferior to bronze (and steel was inefficiently produced in very limited quantities), iron had the advantage that it could be produced using local resources during the dark ages that followed the Minoan collapse, and was very inexpensive when compared to the cost of producing bronze. Bronze was still a superior metal, resisting both corrosion and metal fatigue better than iron. And bronze was still used during the Iron Age, but for many purposes the weaker iron was sufficiently strong to serve in its place. As an example, Roman officers were equipped with bronze swords while foot soldiers had to make do with iron blades.
Pliny the Elder, the famous first century Roman historian and naturalist, wrote about the reuse of scrap bronze and copper in Roman foundries, noting that the metals were recast as armor, weapons or articles for personal use, such as bronze mirrors. The melting and recasting foundries were located at the Italian port city of Brindisi. Located on the Adriatic coast, Brindisi was the terminus of the great Appian Way, the Roman road constructed to facilitate trade and military access throughout the Italian part of the Roman Empire. The city was the gateway for Roman penetration into the eastern parts of her empire (Greece, the Eastern Mediterranean, the Black Sea Region, the Danubian Provinces, and eventually Mesopotamia).
SHIPPING: These antiquities come from a number of collections which by and large originated here in Eastern Europe. As well, additional specimens are occasionally acquired from other institutions and dealers, principally in Eastern Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean. All of these artifacts are now in the United States and are available for immediate delivery via U.S. Mail. All purchases are backed by an unlimited guarantee of satisfaction and authenticity. If for any reason you are not entirely satisfied with your purchase, you may return it for a complete and immediate refund of your entire purchase price. A certificate of authenticity (COA) is available upon request.
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