Greek Gold Wreath, 2nd century BC
This wreath was purportedly recovered in modern day China, in a region which saw tremendous cross-cultural contact exchange due to the trade routes of the famed Silk Road.
Wreaths worn as a crown are among the more recognizable symbols of ancient Greek and Roman civilizations. Awarded for various accomplishments, or simply as symbols of status and rank, wreaths might be made from the leaves of such plants as olive, ivy, oak, myrtle or laurel. The laurel wreath, awarded to victorious athletes and for academic achievement, is perhaps the best known of the wreath crowns. The example seen here, however, depicts artistic variations on a mix of species including the trumpet vine.
Wreaths of mixed foliage, particularly fashioned in precious metal, are believed to have been made as funerary objects or as offerings at temples. The conquests of Alexander the Great, and the later expansion of the Roman Empire resulted in the appearance of such items far beyond the boundaries of modern Greece and Italy.