In ancient Greece, wreaths made from plants like laurel, ivy, and myrtle were awarded to athletes, soldiers, and royalty. Similar wreaths were designed in gold and silver for the same purposes or for religious functions. This example conveys the language of love. A plant sacred to the goddess Aphrodite, myrtle was a symbol of love. Greeks wore wreaths made of real myrtle leaves at weddings and banquets, received them as athletic prizes and awards for military victories, and wore them as crowns to show royal status. By the Hellenistic period (300–30 BC), the wreaths were made of gold foil; too fragile to be worn, they were created primarily to be buried with the dead as symbols of life’s victories. The naturalistic myrtle leaves and blossoms on this wreath were cut from thin sheets of gold, exquisitely finished with stamped and incised details, and then wired onto the stems. Most that survive today were found in graves.

Cataloguing data may change with further research.

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Greek (Corinthian)
Myrtle Wreath
330–250 BC
diameter × depth: 12 × 1 3/8 inches (30.5 × 3.5 cm)
Credit Line

Gift of Miss Annette Finnigan

Current Location
Not on view
Accession Number
Jewelry & Adornment

[Theodore Zoumpoulakis, Athens, by 1935]; purchased by Miss Annette Finnigan (1873–1940), Houston, 1935–1937; given to MFAH, 1937.