Tag Archives: Garnet

An early medieval garnet workshop in Gamla Uppsala, Sweden

Lecture held by John Ljungkvist, Uppsala


The project “Gamla Uppsala – the emergence of a mythical centre”, has since 2009 conducted systematic studies in Gamla Uppsala to increase the knowledge of the long term structural history of the site. In the period c. 550-700, the place is transforming remarkably into a monumental site. This transformation of an already densely settled site involves the famous mounds, houses on artificial plateaus and recently discovered post row monuments. Three areas were in 2011 investigated in the centre of the Early Medieval manor area. Beyond a major reinterpretations of the great 7th c. hall/-sal, the excavation also contributed in shedding new light on settlement continuity, crafts, large scale household economy and regulations of the site between c. 400-1600 AD. Of particular interest for this presentation is the Northern Plateau, placed in a 90 degree angle in relation the great hall. This partially artificial plateau, house, in between earlier and later phases, two 6th c., two large burnt down houses from the 7th to 8th c. The older building, of which only small remains have been examined, proved to be a multi-functional crafts building where the garnet production is the most prominent activity. The building most likely houses tens of thousands of garnet fragments from the jewellery production, which makes it the so far largest production site found so far in Scandinavia.


Lecture held during the conference “Gemstones in the first Millennium AD. Mines, Trade, Workshops and Symbolism.” October 21st, 2015 at the Roemisch-Germanisches Zentralmuseum, Mainz (Germany).

Further reading on the web:

Blog by John Ljungkvist

Garnet jewellery in early medieval sweden (presentation)

Resources according to the archaeological research at Gamla Uppsala in Swedish:


Arkeologerna blog posts

Societas Archaeologica Upsaliensis

Upplandsmuseet Uppsala


The red garnet industry in contemporary Rajasthan

Lecture held by Borayin Larios, Heidelberg


India has become increasingly difficult. Historically believed to be a key zone for the extraction or red garnet, Rajasthan has now allegedly become a second choice for the gemstone manufacturers from Jaipur. Stake-holders in the production of gemstones presumably procure the majority of garnet rough from African countries such as Tanzania, Madagascar and Zambia, and occasionally from other parts of India, mainly from the state of Orissa.  In the fall of 2014, I ventured to look for red garnet (almandine) sources in the region of Rajasthan, and what I found was a completely different story: protected by local politicians paid off by bribes by the miners, larger mine operations of all kinds of minerals go on despite being outside the law. In the case of the gemstone quality of garnet, small-scale and artisanal mining activities are being carried out in different parts of Rajasthan and it seems that this this type of informal mining might have been the rule rather than the exception also in earlier times. In this paper, I will present my findings on how the local garnet industry is still alive in Rajasthan and what challenges it brings to the researcher to follow the trail of garnet from the mine to the costumer, not only from a historical perspective, but also in contemporary India.



The Video shows  contemporary garnet mining and processing in Rajasthan, India.

Lecture held during the conference “Gemstones in the first Millennium AD. Mines, Trade, Workshops and Symbolism.” October 20th, 2015 at the Roemisch-Germanisches Zentralmuseum, Mainz (Germany).

Garnet Jewellery in Early Medieval Sweden

Deutsche Version | Team

Present-day Sweden has a large and varied garnet material from the Iron Age. Even if there are finds dating back to the Late Roman Period most objects derive from the 5th to 8th centuries. In Sweden this time period is called the Migration and Vendel Period, and it is characterised by its regional power structures, wealthy burials and far-reaching networks of contacts. Most of the garnets are part of jewellery such as brooches but also adorning high status weaponry etc. Continue reading Garnet Jewellery in Early Medieval Sweden

Scientific and Technical Analyses of Garnet Jewellery

Deutsche Version | Team

Depending on their respective geological origin, the chemical composition of garnets varies significantly. Different areas of origin of ancient garnet can thus be distinguished by scientific analyses.

Analyses into the origins of garnet from the areas on the periphery of the Merovingian Empire, planned to be carried out within the scope of this subproject, will form the basis for an understanding of chronological changes of the distribution routes and recognising possible reasons for the “garnet route in crisis”. Continue reading Scientific and Technical Analyses of Garnet Jewellery

Garnet Cloisonné on the Continent during the 7th and 8th Centuries

Deutsche Version | Team

The usage of garnets on the continent changed markedly during the final decades of the 6th century. Objects with garnet inlay, which until then had been available to large parts of the population even in remote and rural regions, suddenly became scarce. The two general explanations are that cloisonné had either become unpopular, or that the trade links for the supply of raw material from Sri Lanka and India had been severely disrupted. Continue reading Garnet Cloisonné on the Continent during the 7th and 8th Centuries

Garnets in Byzantine texts

Deutsche Version | Team

This part of the International Framework focuses on the use and especially on the interpretation of carbuncles in the Byzantine cultural area. The focus of this study is the question of the typically Byzantine simultaneous existence of interpretations in the ancient tradition on the one hand, and in the biblically tradition on the other hand. Furthermore, it is intended to establish the significance of carbuncles (gr. Ἄνθραξ) within a “hierarchy of gems” in Byzantium. Continue reading Garnets in Byzantine texts

The Development of Cloisonné between India and the Byzantine Empire

Deutsche Version | Team

This subproject is concerned with basic research that is to say with the question of origin and stylistic development of cloisonné between India and the Byzantine Empire. Following a careful chronological classification, significant insight will be gained through a combination of published finds and some of the objects from the collections of the RGZM originating in this vast geographic area. Continue reading The Development of Cloisonné between India and the Byzantine Empire

Cloisonné during the Visigothic period in Spain

Deutsche Version | Team

In the first half of the 20th century, some cemeteries with large amounts of grave goods dating from the early Visigothic period (5th-6th centuries) were discovered and excavated in central Spain. This material included large numbers of clothing accessories decorated in the cloisonné technique. At that time, they seemed to “complete” a general perception of Visigothic-period “minor arts”, joining the cloisonné-decorated crowns discovered in the late 19th and early 20th century at Guarrazar and Torredonjimeno, dating from the 7th century. Continue reading Cloisonné during the Visigothic period in Spain

Towards an Understanding of Anglo-Saxon Stone Names

Deutsche Version | Team

Garnets are ubiquitous in the material culture of Anglo-Saxon England. They appear on buckles, brooches, shoulder clasps, and sieve spoons. They once lined the wings of a dragon on what is possibly the most famous Anglo-Saxon artefact, the helmet from the Sutton Hoo ship burial. Their beauty was, perhaps, imitated in ink and vellum in images which sought to recreate the beauty of jewels on manuscript. Continue reading Towards an Understanding of Anglo-Saxon Stone Names

Archaeometric Investigation of garnet jewellery

Archaeological material from Hungary (late 6th- and 7th-century)

Deutsche Version | Team | Cooperations

Decorative use of garnet stones on fine metalwork has defined the goldsmith’s art in the Carpathian Basin for three centuries, although with varying intensity. After its main flourish between the early 5th and the middle the 6th century, its dominance was mainly limited to the material of some specific social groups. On the other hand, from the early 8th century, garnet inlay had completely disappeared from the design of fine metalwork. In the project we are focussing on one of the most interesting transitional periods, dated between the late 6th and the late 7th century, which in Hungary is called the Early and Middle Avar Periods. Continue reading Archaeometric Investigation of garnet jewellery

Garnet Cloisonné in the Rhinelands

Interdisciplinary Research on Trade, Workshops, Symbolism and Users

Deutsche Version | Team

The aim of the research project is to examine the Northern Rhineland as a model region for trade and distribution of imported goods by analysing origin, quality of cutting and garnets framing during the Merovingian period. Continue reading Garnet Cloisonné in the Rhinelands

Garnet in South Asia

Historical and Archaeological Sources

Deutsche Version | Team

The Indological sub-project of the International Framework will concentrate on two thematic foci. The first is the study and translation of textual sources describing pre-modern knowledge about gemstones and their specific effects. Here we deal with diverse texts composed in Sanskrit which not only present various characteristics of gemstones and their astrological, medical and spiritual potency, but which also relay the legends and myths associated with them. Continue reading Garnet in South Asia