The elegance of gold

Torques de Berzocana Pulse para ampliar Torques de Berzocana (Sala 9, vitrina 9.10)

Torcs of Berzocana

“Simplicity, carried to an extreme, becomes elegance ” Jon Franklin

A large number of gold objects, mostly female ornaments, from the Late Bronze Age have been discovered. The majority were found in buried caches or hoards believed to be offerings, perhaps interred with the intention of retrieving them at a later date.

Among these objects are several remarkable pieces of solid gold jewellery: the bracelet of Estremoz, made using the sophisticated lost-wax casting technique, and the torcs of Berzocana and double torc of Sagrajas, decorated with simple incised geometric shapes. The bowls of Axtroki, possibly ceremonial helmets or caps with decorative repoussé work, feature the same simple elegance as the jewellery.

The material from which these objects were made, gold, is a soft, malleable, easily worked metal with a bright, lustrous colour. It has been and is still used today to create a wide variety of simple, original designs whose natural elegance and loveliness need no embellishment. Thanks to these intrinsic properties, since ancient times gold has been a symbol of wealth and power, highly prized as an indicator of prestige and social status.

Moreover, all of these pieces (torcs, arm rings, bracelets, etc.) prove that prehistoric goldsmiths used many of the same manufacturing and decorative techniques, applied to the creation of more or less intricate designs and patterns, that exist today and are employed by modern-day jewellers, as illustrated by the modern choker with incised geometric decoration. Later, the arrival of the Phoenicians expanded the technical possibilities of goldsmithing applied to jewellery and luxury items, increasing the variety of gold designs, as we will discover in the following text.