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Roman, Hellenistic
Serpent Bracelet
1st century AD
Gold and green glass

9/16 x 3 5/8 x 3 15/16 inches

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Gift of Miss Annette Finnigan


Throughout the ancient world, women wore jewelry to enhance their appearance, indicate rank, and display wealth. Men lavished gifts of earrings, bracelets, and necklaces on their wives and mistresses as tokens of affection. Brides had dowries that often contained sizeable parures, or jewelry wardrobes.

This armband is shaped in the form of coiled snakes with carefully incised scales, open mouths with protruding fangs, and eyes inlaid in glass. In Egypt, such armbands were worn by followers of the goddess Isis as symbols of good luck and resurrection, and to protect against evil.