Saturday, June 1, 2013

History Blog Hop!

Guess what time it is!  That's right--it's time for the History Blog Hop!  Yay!

This delightful blog hop is coordinated by the lovely Leah Curtis over at Beady Eyed Bunny, who gave us a list of different cultures to pick from.  (Curious about the rules?  Go here!)

Now, I actually wanted to make pieces for all of the cultures, but for the sake of my sanity, I narrowed it down to Mesopotamia.

Why Mesopotomia?

Here's a teaser of what's to come.  :)

Well, two reasons.  First, I wanted to choose something a bit different (I have already dabbled in making Egyptian and Roman jewelry). Second, I have had the incredible good fortune of seeing some of these items in person at the Penn Museum... And, well, they made quite an impression.


This entry is divided into two parts: a quick history lesson, for those not familiar with Mesopotamian Jewelry, and then pictures of what I created.  It's a bit long, but I will do my best to make it worth your while!  :D

A Summary of Ancient Mesopotamian Jewelry
(If you're in a hurry, feel free to skip to the next part, or just scroll to look at pictures)

Almost everyone has heard of King Tut's Tomb...  How it was magnificent, and untouched by grave robbers.

Most people, however, have not heard of the tomb of Pu'abi--a Semitic Akkadian woman, who is believed to have been a Queen (or a very high ranking priestess).  Her tomb was also untouched by grave robbers--meaning that, when it was opened, the sheer amount of opulence was staggering.

Just look at some of the items they found in her tomb:

The jewelry found on Queen Pu'abi herself
Source: Sumerian Shakespeare

...And that's not including her headdress:

The headdress of Queen Pu'abi
...How cool that her earrings are actually attached to the
headdress, but made to look like they dangle from her ears!
Source: Sumerian Shakespeare

Or the pin that they believe held up her hair:

Sumerian Shakespeare

In fact, Queen Pu'abi's jewelry weighed 14 pounds.  Can you even imagine?

Reconstruction of the Queen's jewelrySource: Sumerian Shakespeare

But, wait, that's not all!  She was buried with 52 attendants--and they all had elaborate jewelry, too!

Attendant's attire
Source: Sumerian Shakespeare

The people of Mesopotamia used many different materials in these amazing works of art, including (but not limited to) carnelian, gold, agate, and lapis lazuli.

In fact, they loved lapis lazuli.  To them, it represented fabulous wealth, literally and figuratively.  It had to be imported over vast distances, therefore making it extremely expensive. (Source: Sumerian Shakespeare)

Pu'abi herself was draped in it.  

Gold and Lapis Lazuli Beads worn by Pu'abi and her attendants
Source: Sumerian Shakespeare

Choker Necklace of Queen Pu'abi, made of gold and lapis lazuliSource: Sumerian Shakespeare

To the people of Mesopotamia, jewelry was a status symbol, a fail-safe wedding gift, a tool for diplomacy.  Indeed, scholars look to their work as the progenitor of modern jewelry:

“Sumerian jewellery fulfilled practically all the functions which were to occur during the course of history. In fact, there were more different types of jewellery than there are today.” – Guido Gregorietti, jewelry historian  (source: Dissecting Mesopotamian Jewelry)
And so, there you go... a brief(ish) introduction to Mesopotamian jewelry.  Now, now on to what I made for this blog hop!  :)

The Jewelry I Made

I have always loved the combination of gold and lapis. In fact, I had actually thought that it was a combination more often seen in ancient Egyptian work... Imagine my surprise, then, when I realized that it is practically everywhere in Mesopotamian art. (Another example: this lyre.) So, I decided to work in those colors.  

When it comes to the form of Mesopotamian jewelry, I was inspired by the choker of Queen Pu'abi herself (seen in that last picture). I decided to use that as a springboard for my creations. 

Oh, and a quick note about materials: I am fresh out of lapis--even in our modern economy, it can be quite pricey, and I do not have the budget that Pu'abi had. 

Instead, I used blue glass and blueberry quartz.  I also used gold-plated metal and vintage hammered brass beads--trying to capture both the brilliant shine of the Mesopotamian pieces, as well as the weathered look that comes from its age.

As per usual, I made three pieces: a necklace, a matching pair of earrings, and a pair of hairsticks (after all, she had a hairpin!).

Now, you've waited long enough: on to the shinies!!

The Necklace

Made in the same manner as the choker of Pu'abi...
Only more prominent, and with a dangle.

The Earrings

These are long and dangly--like the hoops on
Pu'abi's headdress.  Also, they match the necklace.

The Hairsticks

I took the most liberty with these... Using the color
and form of the other two pieces as an inspiration.

And, in a grand finale, here is everything together!

So, there you go!

Thank you so, so much for joining me on this awesome jewelry adventure... allowing me to mix my love for ancient cultures with my love for creating shiny things.  Hurray!

(And, one day, I really really want to make a bead cape like they found in the tomb of Pu'abi... I don't know if I'd ever wear it, or find a market for it, or be able to justify the amount that it would cost in materials alone, but it would be so fun. Maybe one day when I become amazingly wealthy... *wistful sigh*)

Now, I do have other pieces planned for some of the other, different cultures...  Perhaps, one of these days, I'll be able to post them here as well.  (Amongst everything else I have planned, heh.) 

And, of course, thank you, Leah, for hosting such a fun blog hop!!  I had a blast!


Want to know more about Mesopotamian Jewelry?

Look here!

Penn Museum (for Pu'abi herself)
Penn Museum (for the beginning of the Ancient Mesopotamia Exhibit)
Dissecting Mesopotamian Jewelry
Sumerian Shakespeare


Want to see what everyone else made for this blog hop?  

Check out these other participants!  :)

Leah Curtis - Indus Valley - 
Laney Mead - Māori -
Becca - Art Nouveau -
Melissa - English Romanticism and Mourning Jewelry -
Tracy Stillman - Native American -
Gerda - English Romanticism and Mourning Jewelry -
Liz E - Native North American -
Ahowin - Māori (New Zealand)  - 
Jasvanti - Indus Valley -
Lizzie - Art Nouveau - 
Julia Hay - Merovingian -
Dini - Celtic -
Caroline - Art Nouveau - 
Charlie - Moche of Peru - 
Karin - China -
Niky Sayers - Rome - 
Marcia Dunne - Celctic and Mourning Jewelry -
Jenny Kyrlach - Mesopotamia - (You are here!)
Kokopelli - Native American -
Christa - Native American -
Clair - Roman -
Susan Bowie - Native American -
Gloria Allen - English Romanticism -
Sheila Garrett - Early Russia -


  1. That's fantastic. Glad I'm not the only one who went to town. I saw some of this jewellery in the British Museum when I was there researching for my jewellery. So elaborate. Going to make the head dress next?

    1. I had so much fun! I would have loved to have gone to the British Museum to do research... Or just in general, lol. (What can I say, I absolutely love Museum-hopping.) If I could tackle anything next, it would be that cape of hers... but, you never know--I might get to her head dress one of these days. ;)

  2. All I can say is WOW! Beautiful designs. Fascinating to read about Queen Pu'abi. You've certainly captured the spirit of the times with all that blue and gold. The hair sticks were a great touch too :-)

    1. Thank you so, so much! I'm glad that you like what I made. (And I'm addicted to making hairsticks, even though I recently cut my hair, lol.)

  3. What lovely, lovely work, and a great explanation! You really did the time period justice.

    1. Thank you so much! I really tried hard to echo the time period--I'm glad that I succeeded! Thank you for your kind comment.

  4. Great reveal! I love lapis and gold, too. Thank you for sharing what you found about Mesopotamian jewelry. Very interesting read!

    1. Thank you so much! I'm glad that you enjoyed it! Thank you so much for organizing this--I had a blast!

  5. Loved reading your blog and your jewellery pieces are stunning!

    1. Thank you, thank you! I'm glad that you enjoyed! :D

  6. Gold and deep blue, just a perfect combination and fantastic to see the history behind your work....all that gold and beautiful gems!

    1. Thank you so much for stopping by and commenting... I'm so glad I could share all of the wonderful things I found! :D

  7. I love your blog post, and so nice what I learnt about Queen Pu'abi and people of Mesopotamia. Very great work, and the combo of Lapis and gold are always such beautiful and so Royal.

    1. Thank you so, so much for checking out my post and taking the time to comment! I appreciate your kind words. I think it's always so fun to learn new things! :D

  8. What a great post. Women are so often left out of history so I'm glad you brought Queen Pu'abi to life for me. I think if she saw your stuff she would have given you a job as a royal jewelry designer!!! You really made a gorgeous set. A weird little thought I had, do you think those 52 attendants were killed to be buried with her?

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words! I had a lot of fun researching Queen Pu'abi, and I'm very happy I was able to bring her to life for you. (And, hee, I would take a position as a royal jewelry designer--that could be fun!)

      And, if you'll pardon the geeky-ness, I actually did some research into those 52 attendants for you... According to the Penn Museum: "The neat arrangement of bodies and their undisturbed delicate headdresses convinced Woolley [the archaeologist who opened the tomb] that the attendants in the tombs had not been killed, but had gone willingly to their deaths, drinking some deadly or soporific drug and composing themselves for death. He further suggested that in so doing they were assured a “less nebulous and miserable existence” than ordinary men and women."
      source: )

      Queen Pu'abi must have been a very important person, to inspire that sort of dedication!

  9. I love the history lesson!!!! And your piece is just gorgeous!

    1. Oh, yay! Thank you so much for commenting--I'm thrilled that you like it! :D

      (I wonder why your comment went to "spam"... Oh, I'm glad I checked my filter! *grin*)

  10. Beautiful jewelry and great designs! I enjoyed reading about the historical pieces.
    Great post-

    1. Oh, yay... I'm so, so glad that you enjoyed! Thank you for commenting and your kind words! :D

  11. Such a well written introduction to your pieces - its clear that you did your 'geeky' research (and loved it!) Thank you so much for sharing it with everyone, along with the photographs of your lovely pieces. I'm a little bit partial to those hair sticks - swoonsome!

    1. Thank you so, so much--for your kind words and your comment! I really did enjoy myself... I'm glad that shows in my writing. And I'm glad, too, that you like the hairsticks! They are so fun to make... even though my hair is too short to use them now, I'm still addicted to them! :D

  12. Love the pieces you made, especially the necklace. And thank you for taking the time to put together a brief history lesson. It was really interesting :)

    1. And thank you for your comment! I really appreciate your kind words! :D

  13. You did a lot of research :-) and created beautiful inspired jewellery... The hair sticks are my 'abfabs', but I love to look at all the pieces!

    1. I'm glad that you like the hairsticks--and, well, everything here as well. Thank you for taking the time to comment! :D

  14. I loved seeing the pics of the ancient Mesopotamian jewellery and I love what you were inspired to make! Gorgeous!

    1. Yay, I'm glad you liked! Thanks so much for commenting. :D

  15. What a beautiful set! And I love all the research you did on that. 14 pounds of jewelry is a lot.

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words! I'm glad you enjoyed my post. :D

  16. Absolutely gorgeous interpretation of those ancient pieces. The ancient jewelry research sent me on a bunny trail and I loved it! I've been studying ancient Greek jewelry, but fell in love with this branch too! I'm definitely adding some of these inspirations to my future designs. Thanks for that.


Thank you so much for taking the time to comment! :)