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Early Medieval Gemstone Jewelry

Since 1 January 2014, the LVR-LandesMuseum Bonn has been a cooperative partner with the Römisch-Germanisches Zentralmuseum in Mainz in the Europe-wide research project sponsored by the Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung (Federal Ministry of Education and Research) called "Worldwide Cellular Network – Radical changes in the cultural significance of early medieval gemstone jewelry before the backdrop of economical history, as well as the transfer of ideas and technology".

The project deals with the origins, crafting, and trade of almandines, a type of garnet that was very popular and widespread as an inlay in jewelry, weapons, and belts made of precious metals during Merovingian times (end 5th century - 7th century). Thousands of findings have been discovered during archaeological excavations in the Rhineland, above all, as burial objects. The combination of the blood-red stone with the shiny gold metal setting represents one of the most striking stylistic elements in the aesthetics and the artisan craftwork of this time.

The project unites various scientific and antique archaeological analyses of the material. In doing this, the northern Rhineland is to be researched as a model region for the origin, crafting, and distribution of this object traded far and wide, as well as issues concerning the local and regional conditions for the availability of the almandines.

First, in the workshops at the LVR-LandesMuseums Bonn, x-ray technological and microscopic analyses will be conducted to determine the crafting and quality of the pieces, which above all will look into questions about specific workshop groups.

Extensive x-ray fluorescence analyses at the Römisch-Germanisches Zentralmuseum in Mainz will provide data concerning the chemical make-up of the stones. Thus, the path these stones have taken may be traced from the graves in the Rhineland back to the mineral deposits where they were mined.

Beginning in the second half of the 6th century, in many cases this semi-precious gem was replaced with other materials, mainly coloured glass. The scope, date in time, and way these materials were crafted are all being researched. The focal point in doing all of this is also the large, precious gold disc fibulae clasps from the 7th century, which are often elaborately decorated with coloured glass stones. Here the question arises concerning the continuity in the treatment of the material, the workshops, and the trade routes.


LVR-LandesMuseum Bonn, Colmantstr. 14-16, 53115 Bonn

Tel. +49 (0) 228 / 2070 - 0, Fax +49 (0) 228 / 2070 - 299

Opening Hours Museum

TUE - FRI, SON 11 a.m. - 6 p.m., SAT 1 p.m. - 6 p.m., MON closed

Guided tours for school groups available from 10 a.m.

Opening Hours Library

MON - FRI 8 a.m. - 4 p.m.