Gold pill box

A sarcophagus unearthed at Horbourg in 1884 was revealed to contain two Merovingian gold jewellery pieces, which the Musée Unterlinden acquired in 1890. The ring, ornamented with a Roman intaglio design representing a bird, consists of a circular loop finished with a double spiral underneath the cylindrical bezel setting. The most remarkable item in this collection is a cylindrical pill box made from heavy gold sheet. The box and its cover are connected with two hinges. The welding between the various components of this piece is hidden with a chequered filigree design. Filigree work also decorates the outer circumference, the top and the bottom of the pill box, showing traditional S- or hook-shaped motifs. A small eyelet attached near one of the hinges allowed the pill box to be worn around the neck on a chain. It is therefore a bulla, in other words a locket used as an amulet, according to a well-known custom among the Franks. Stylistically, these two jewellery pieces may assuredly be dated to the second half of the 7th century.

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