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The Metal > The History of Jewellery > The Metal  |  Print  |  E-mail a friend

With the exception of gold, all metals oxidise. That is why there is something special about gold when it is retrieved from graves; we can see the same glow of the gold today that the owner experienced in the distant past.

It is sparkling and unblemished. Many symbols have been associated with the colour of gold. For instance, the sun has an obvious association. The metal symbolized the sun in Ancient Egypt, for the Bronze Age people in Denmark (as in the Sun Chariot), and for the Incas of Peru.

In some cases silver is preferred to gold for several functions. For example, it had an exchange value for the Vikings. It was used for trading goods and it was often found in the form of jewellery, which the Vikings used to cut into pieces for trading. This especially applies to necklaces and bracelets.

The source of the rich finds of silver treasures in the Scandinavian countries in the Viking Age was the trade routes along the Russian rivers. These routes connected the Vikings in Scandinavia with the Great Powers of the south-east: Byzantium, Persia and the Arab homeland.

Viking ships were the crucial means of transport to Europe between 800 AD and 1050 AD. But the stream of silver through Russia was due to the fact that the Muslim provinces in Central Asia had discovered very rich silver mines in Afghanistan around the year 890.
"In the cities Bukhara, Samarkand and Tashkent, silver coins were struck and later used by Muslim merchants on the markets at the rivers Volga and Don" (cit. Danish Prehistory, the National Museum of Denmark).

However, it is still a mystery who brought the oriental silver all the way from Asia across Russia.

Museum Jewellery - c/o Skindsmedene  -  Klosterstraedet 14  -  1157 Copenhagen K
Tel. +45 3393 9396 (after 12.00 p.m. CET)  -  Fax. + 45 3332 9394  -  E-mail: sus@skindsmedene.dk  -  CVR-number: 27098347