Gold Snake Armlet

This type of gold armlet takes the form of a spiral and ends in the head of a snake, to be worn on the upper arm. Roman jewellery borrowed heavily from Hellenistic goldwork. This particular type was common in Hellenistic times, especially in Egypt where these particular armlets might have been made.

Snakes were the symbol of a number of deities associated with healing, including the Egyptian goddess Isis and the Greek god of medicine Asclepios. It was therefore a commonly used pattern in jewellery, its spiral shape lending itself well to rings and necklaces. Worn as an amulet, the snake protected its wearer.

Gold snake armlet
Gold snake armlet

In Hellenistic Egypt, gold snake armlets were a popular form of jewellery. These armlets were typically made of gold and designed in the shape of snakes, symbolizing protection and fertility. They were often adorned with gemstones or intricate engravings to enhance their beauty.

Snake armlets were worn by both men and women as a fashion statement and a symbol of wealth and status. They were commonly found in tombs and archaeological sites, indicating their significance in ancient Egyptian culture.

In Roman Egypt, snake armlets continued to be a popular form of jewellery. Similar to Hellenistic Egypt, these armlets were made of various materials, including gold, silver, and bronze. The snake motif remained significant, symbolizing protection, fertility, and divine power.

Roman snake armlets often featured intricate designs, such as coiled snakes with detailed scales and gemstone embellishments. They were worn by both men and women as a fashion accessory and a symbol of status and wealth.

Snake armlets can be found in archaeological discoveries and are a testament to the enduring popularity of this jewellery style in Roman Egypt.

This gold snake armlet is dated to the Roman Period, ca. 1-100 AD. Now in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. 631A-1884