Female Head

24. Pendant: Female Head

Accession Number82.AO.161.7
Date500–480 B.C.
DimensionsHeight: 48 mm; width: 28 mm; depth: 12 mm; Weight: 5 g
View in Collection


–1982, Jiří Frel, 1923–2006, and Faya Frel (Los Angeles, CA), donated to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1982.


The pendant’s top proper right quarter was broken and reglued in modern times from three fragments. On the obverse are a number of both old and modern small chips: at the perforation, on the left and right sides of the face, and at the top and right sides of the head. On the reverse is a fissure. The lack of detail on the prominent surfaces of the face strongly suggests use wear. There is a scattered, spotty, yellow-ocher degradation overall, with some associated surface pitting. The amber is friable in the vicinity of breaks. The amber is opaque and yellow-orange in ambient light. Under transmitted light, it is translucent and dull red. With the exception of the material in the fissure, there are no visible inclusions.


This frontal face of a female figure is concave on the obverse and flat on the reverse. The figure is wearing a high soft hat and a veil. The visible section of the brow is short and broad. There are no indications of ears. The widely spaced large eyes are flat and almond-shaped and are bounded by rims composed of thick fillets. The nose is broad and snubbed. All that remains of the mouth are two grooves. Nevertheless, it is clear that the upper lip hung over the lower one. The jaw is squarish and the chin pointed. Above the brow are straight bangs with vestiges of vertical striations. The softly rounded high hat has a turnup, indicated by two parallel engraved lines. The veil covers the hat and ears but not the bangs.

Because of the surface erosion of this piece, no tool marks are visible. A suspension perforation was drilled laterally through the top of the piece. When it was suspended, the back would be perpendicular to the ground, with the head tilting forward, the chin close to the neck, and the eyes appearing downcast.


82.AO.161.7 wears a costume similar to that of many other amber head-pendants; however, her hat is rather more rounded on top than most. In its form and its manner of hanging, the frontal face is akin to a face from a tomb at Kompolje, Croatia. In style, it is similar to the three well-preserved heads from the tomb.1 The profile relates it to a head-pendant from Tomb 2 at Tolve.2


  1. For the ambers from the Kompolje tomb, see R. Bižiž-Drechsler in Vjesnik Arheološkog Muzeja u Zagrebu, ser. 2, no. 2 (1961): 109–13, pls. XXVIII–XXIX; and , p. 134, fig. 82, pl. VII.14.
  2. For the Tolve head-pendant, see , p. 115.


Magie d’ambra 2005
Magie d’ambra: Amuleti e gioielli della Basilicata antica. Exh. cat. Potenza, 2005.
Mastrocinque 1991
Mastrocinque, A. L’ambra e l’Eridano: Studi sulla letteratura e sul commercio dell’ambra in età preromana. Este, 1991.