Chalcedony History

Chalcedony, Sardis The Capital of Lydia and City of Gold and Jewelry Making

Lydians whose capital was Sardis. Now around Salihli region, they begin to show their presence after 700 B.C. Although their language is of Indo-European roots, it also bears elements of older anatolian languages. Expanding from time to time, Lydia also took within its borders its neighbors such as Phrygia and Ionia. Following occupation of Anatolia by the Persians in 546 B.C. the Lydians collapsed, and like all other Anatolia cities, Sardis was s satrapy under Persian domination.

Sardis was at a point where east-west trade routes converged. To put it more correctly, all roads passed through Sardis, the reason being that gold collected from mount Tmolos (Bozdag in the South by the river Paktalos) collected in the alluvial mud of the vally. Aware of this fact, the sardians were masters of working and purifying gold. Until that time, gold veins were used as a medium of exchange in commerce.

Classical Culture before the Hellenistic Age

During the Greaco-Persian Period, which began with the Persian occupation of Anatolia and its subjection to their Empire, Gordium, Ephesus, Sardis, Miletus, Phocaea, Sinope, and a great many other cities scattered about Anatolia continued the tradition of ancient Anatolian art. Nevertheless, as a result of the Middle Eastern culture brought by the Persians with these local cultures, a new thesis-called ''Graeco-Persian''-emerged and it showed itself in jewelry, as it did in all other branches of the arts.

While this development was taking place in Anatolia, Classical Culture was born in mainland Greece (5th Century B.C.) in which Athens played a leading role. In the fields of thought and art, a bright period of development was created based uopn a observational dialectic and idealism. The source of this Classical Culture was that of ancient Mediterranean cultures.

Developing Gem Technology and the Blue Lady of Pergamon

The Hellenistic Age is a period in which empires changed hands, rose and fell, but in which local cultures preserved their unique natures. The Hellenistic kingdoms which were established as the empires fell returned to the regional characteristics now melded the Hellenistic crucible. Gem working , a heritage from much earlier periods in Anatolia, continued its existence in the Hellenistic Period as well. The heritage of the master craftsmen who produced their Sardian seals, scarabs and rings stones of such hard gems as chalcedony, carnelian and opal during the Graeco-Persian phase was now taken over in the Kingdom of Pergamon. These important works remaining from this period are proof that the technology was developed to the utmost.

The first of these in a miniature spherical agate vase small enough to fit in the palm of one's hand and which is also hollowed out around the opening. The second work is a chalcedony brooch, stemming from a journey of a thousand years which began in Mesopotamia spreading to the civilization of Anatolia, Egypt and Greece and which may serve as a symbol of the summit at Pergamon of such techniques as engraved ring stones and brooches with their figures, carved in relief. This piece, which we propose hereby called the ''Blue Lady of Pergamon'', like the previous small vase is in the Istanbul Archaelogical Museum. It is a pity that that we lack more Anatolian examples from this period in which such superior works were produced. For as we know from the book on the subject of gems by the natural historian Theophrastus, who was born on the Island of Lesbos in 372 B.C. and was a student of the Platonic School and of Aristotle, sards, sardonyx and a host of other gems took their names from their presence and artistic production in Anatolia.

 

Anatolia's Blue Gold: Chalcedony

Business relations during the Anatolian history began before 3000 B.C. Since them trade continued with Weypt, Mesopotamia, Caucasia and Thrace, Anatolia's first export products were stones and other raw materials. During the Neolithic period, obsidian stones from Central Anatolia were sold to Cyprus and Mesopotamia. In the following years, Anatolian metallurgy began and attained its golden period. Nobles and city inhabitants became interested in decorative accessories. With this began the export of a precious blue stone found in the Eskisehir region. Withits beautiful shade and exceptional hardness, this stone was used for the manufacture of jewellery and cylindrical signet rings during the hittite and Urartian periods.

Expoitation of these quarries dates as far bark as times prior to the Antiquity (800-600 B.C.) and their production attained its climax during the Roman era with 20-30 tons of raw and /or processed material exported, then very popular in the west.

It may be diffucult to believe, but during that early period, people were able to carve and extansively use this hard stone. The most reputed piece realized in Chalcedony is the Relief of the Blue Woman of Pergamum. This relief which represents a woman's head of the size of a brouche, actually preseved in Istanbul's Archaelogical Museum, is one of the world's most interesting jewellery pieces manufactured with the limited technologies of the past were decorative stones concerned, the Sardans were as much expert geologists as they were miners who extracted gold from the streams. They made lavish use of such bright colored, semi-precious stones as fire opals, banded agate and chalcedony.

Classical Culture before the Hellenistic Age

During the Greco-Persian Period, which began with the Persian occupation of Anatolia and its subjection to their Empire, Gordium, Ephesus, Sardis, Miletus, Phocaea, Sinope, and a great many other cities scattered about Anatolia continued the tradition of ancient Anatolian art. Nevertheless, as a result of the Middle Eastern culture brought by the Persians with these local cultures, a new thesis-called ''Graeco-Persian'' emerged and it showed itself in jewelry, as it did in all other branches of the arts.

While this development was taking place in Anatolia, Classical Culture was born in mainland Greece (5th Century B.C.) in which Athens played a leading role. In the fields of thought and art, a bright period of development was created based upon a observational dialectic and idealism. The source of this Classical Culture was that of ancient Mediterranean cultures.

From The Macedonian Kingdom to the Empire of Alexander The Great (Hellenistic Age)

Founded in the 7th Centry B.C., the Kingdom of Macedonia came under the influence of Grek language and culture in the 5th Century B.C. During the regean of Philip, Alexander's father, the gold mines in western Trace began to be worked, and Greece came under Macedonian hegemony. As a result of the expeditions of his son, Alexander the Great in Anatolia, the Persian Empire was destroyed , and its place was founded the Empire of Alexander the Great, which extended from india to North Africa. As a result of this fusion of Grek culture with the cultures surrounding the Mediterranean and in the Middle East, Hellenistic culture arose as a result of the poly-national empire thus created. Among there, the Kingdom of Pergamon in western Anatolia and the Ptolemaic Kingdom of Egypt grew as the rivals of their age in a climate of uninterrupted cultural and artıstic competition. The Kingdom of Pergamon took over 5th Century Classical Culture from Athens and kept it alive. The largest school of sculpture of the Hellenistic Age was founded at Pergamon, which subsequently influenced Roman Sculpture Cities such as Ephesues, Tralleis, Aphrodesias and Milletus which won their independence during this period, are also among the leaders in the cultural and artistic activities of the Hellenistic Age.

Rich, Exciting, Colorful Jewelry

The variety of forms of jewelry increased during the Hellenistic Age, most of which were excessively complex arrangements. As is the case in sculpture and the other plastic arts,these striking , effective features are also to be abserved in jewelry.

An important innovation during this period was the entry of color into the art of jewelry. Althourgh semi-precious stones were rarely emplyed in Classical Grek Jewelry, the use of colored stone, glass and enameling in Hellenistic Age jewelry gains for it a bright and sparkling appearance. The most popular stones were carnelians, garnets, chalcedony, quartz, amethysts and emeralds, which were used together with pearls, fired ceramics and enamel. This development is a product of the influence of Anatolian, Middle Eastern and Egyptian cultures.

Sardian Jewelry under the Persian Rule of Anatolian and its Aftermath

Starting from the 6th Century B.C. onward, the use of decorative stones in Lydian jewelry increased, particulary in the Graeco-Persian period. Ring stones in the from of the sacred scarab (apperaring under the influence of Egyptian art). Figures on crowns, rings engraved for the purpose of being seals, and silver or bronze pendant seals are all the products of this period. During the Graeco-Persian period an art arose out of the fusion of the orders which the Persian ruling class gave in line with their own religious and aesthetic cultures to domestic artisans together with Anatolian. Hellenic styles and techniques; This tradition of jewelry making also continued in the city of Sardis in the subsequent Hellenistic period.
Chacedony seal in the from of a pendant set in gold and silver.
A Sardian find from the Graeco-Persian.
Istanbul Archaeological Museum.