Ancient Artifacts | Ancient Artefacts

Authentic ancient artefacts

Antiquities are defined as the artwork and artefacts which have survived the centuries and are able to impart information about the history of Earth and its peoples. Leaving flint tools out of the equation, the antiquity period can be dated from around 7000BC to 500AD. This covers the fall of Rome in the middle years of the 4th century, and the early Coptic Christian era in Egypt. That said, most of the material that is described as "antiquities" dates from around 2000BC to 500AD.

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The appeal of antiquities and antique jewellery to collectors has several relevant factors. There is the stylistic element, the historical context and the investment value. However, the main factor is the ability of antiquities and vintage jewellery to build a bridge across time and link to the heritage of western civilisation. The sheer age of these artefacts is attractive to the collector, and they give a unique and personal insight into how life was lived many centuries ago. In purely financial terms, antiquities can be relatively cheap. For example, a classic vase from around 1850BC could cost far less than a more modern yet more sought after Victorian vase.

It may be because of this type of apparent inconsistency in value that prospective collectors of antiquities do not immediately realise just how collectable these ancient artefacts are. You can find many ancient artifacts and jewellery online One frequently asked question regarding antiquities is: "How can something that is thousands of years old still appear to be in great shape?"

This question can be answered when you realise that many antiques fall into four main groups:

  • Items that have been interred with a deceased person.
  • Things that may have been buried in the ground for other reasons.
  • Pieces left behind after a major localised incident, such as the passage of an invading army, or a natural disaster such as the volcanic eruption that destroyed Pompeii.
  • Items which have outlived their domestic or manufacturing purposes. Often these are recovered from historical waste areas.

Most artefacts and ancient antique jewelry are possibly recovered from burial sites. Ancient people considered the afterlife to be very similar to earthly life, and in their opinion, the departed loved one had to be equipped with the things they would need to be comfortable in the next life. An ancient burial would be comparable to the way people pack their most treasured possessions for vacations today. For example, a Persian warrior would need his weapons and his most comfortable harness for his horse in the next world.

A wealthy Etruscan who was used to entertaining on a regular basis might be buried with the equivalent of a large dinner service. It is known from archaeological excavations that the ancient Greek town of Syracuse in Sicily boasted a theatre that could seat 15000 playgoers. It is likely that the population of the town would have been at least three times that figure - possibly more - and its heyday lasted for around 300 years. From these statistics, it is clear that an enormous amount of ancient silver jewellery alone must have been buried there in one way or another. Items that may have been buried for other reasons than intentional interment are known as votive offerings. People would visit shrines and temples, and take an offering of jewellery for the god or goddess to whom the holy place was dedicated.

This happened for a number of reasons - people might just want to remind their god of their existence, or the offering may be a "thank you" for a perceived divine blessing, or a bribe in order to secure a favour. These days, people light candles in churches and chapels, but of course these burn away leaving nothing behind, whereas jewellery and other offerings endure for centuries, given the right conditions. It’s likely that priests would earn income from the sale of votive offerings, and there would have been thefts from the temples and shrines, but equally a large number of these artefacts would have remained at the holy site, to be uncovered centuries later. Much of the ancient jewellery which has been uncovered was made from silver, gold, bronze and glass. Unlike people, these elements do not degrade significantly when interred in the earth.

Thus antiquities are not as rare as some people may believe. One thing that may concern a would-be collector of antiquities is the question of credibility. People are often amazed that an artefact that is thousands of years old can be accurately dated to within a few years of production, and may doubt the articles provenance. For this reason, beginning collectors who may have little experience in this area of expertise should buy from a trusted supplier of antiquities such as the Antiquities Giftshop. This ensures you receive a certificate of authenticity, plus a guarantee of reimbursement should the authenticity of your purchase be disputed by a recognised expert in the field of antiquities. Of course, it is often possible to verify the provenance of an antiquity by comparing it with similar authenticated pieces. The location of the discovery site can also assist in the verification process. Experts can often evaluate a piece of vintage jewellery simply by looking at it, touching it and noting the degree of possible encrustation, and the look and feel of the piece.

The collector can achieve a certain level of knowledge and experience by visiting as many galleries as possible, and viewing and handling ancient artefacts on a regular basis. Auction rooms are another good source of education in antiquities, and a reputable retailer or auctioneer will be happy to encourage your interest and give you the benefit of their own knowledge. It is a good idea to study books about antiquities to further your knowledge. However, these can be expensive, and they may not be comprehensive in the coverage of certain antiquities. It may be possible to access these books through your local community library.  Basically, authentication is often achieved by comparing similar items, and noting decorative features, materials used, and the overall style of the artefacts. In the field, dating is mainly conducted through the stratification at the site.

This is basically the number of layers that have been uncovered in the archaeological dig. If you imagine the site as being a bit like a wedding cake, with a number of tiers, then these artefacts found at the lowest level will be the oldest. If coins are also uncovered with the artefacts, these can be very helpful in the dating process. It is not an exact method of dating, but it does provide the earliest point of manufacture for the artefact. Stylistically, the clothing and hairstyles worn by engraved figures such as those on intaglios - engraved gemstones used in ancient jewellery - can help with dating an artefact. Building a collection of antiquities is first and foremost a matter of individual taste.

Available storage space and disposable income must also influence the collector. Although it is wise to purchase the best example of a particular antiquity that availability and finance allows, there is something to be said for purchasing inferior pieces that can later be "traded up" in order to enhance your collection. Collectors and sellers of antiquities alike are always ready to exchange pieces to fill gaps in their collections, and it is a good idea to have a few "passing on" pieces in your own collection that you can use when the time is right.