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Byzantine Medallion

Imitation in gold and enamel


The medallion is an imitation of a Byzantine original in gold and enamel. The original  was  found  in  the  ancient section of  Oslo in 1877 during a rail­road construction.  It has been securely stored  at  the  Museum of Cultural Heritage in Oslo, but has been brought out into the light for the centenary of the museum’s building in 2004.

The medallion is made from a thin sheet of gold and enamel using a special cloisonče technique where the small cells in the pattern are filled with enamel. The pattern is a Greek cross made up by transparent dark green enamel with sur­rounding white, opaque cells. The style is characteristic for Byzantine enamelled works during the period 800 AD to about the year 1000. It is almost certain that the medallion is produced in the Byzantium region during this time frame.

The original has no traces of any attachment on its reverse side and may have been fixed to a frame of some sort. One cannot, therefore, firmly state what its original purpose was. Its size and similarity to some Danish finds indicate a finger ring decoration, but it may have been a decoration on a larger artifact such as a box, or it may have been worn as an amulet.

One may wonder how such an item ended up in Oslo. It illustrates the close communication between Scandinavia and the East Roman Empire during the Viking era and early Medieval period.

The imitation is made in gilded sterling silver and enamel. The pattern of the ori­ginal has distinct irregularities, these are recon­structed in the imitation to make it look the same as the original. The diameter is18 mm.

Made as pendant, finger ring and pair of cufflinks.

The elegant original,
but tattered and worn

The replica, still elegant
.....but not tattered.