3 5/8 x 2 3/4 in. (9 x 6.8 cm)
Gift of John C. Weber, 2006 (2006.569)
Gold objects decorated with pierced-work patterns were one of the most popular forms of jewelry in the Late Roman/Byzantine empire, from the third though the seventh century. the decoration of these objects, called diatrita in Greek and opus interrasile in Latin, ranged from simple patterns to elegantly complex motifs. On this exceptional gold cross, elaborate foliate patterns radiate from the central medallion, terminating on the arms in medallions enclosing small crosses. The Museum's Byzantine collection contains examples of diatrita on necklaces, bracelets, and fibulae dating from as early as the fourth century. The four trilobed foliate motifs that anchor the central medallion on this cross are typical of later examples of pierced-work jewelry. As the largest known surviving cross with diatrita, this is a rare example of the use of the technique in an imposing religious work.