Tuesday, August 09, 2011

The Quest for Pirithous' Armband

Jambieres en cuivre - 1250 avJC - Veuxhaulles-sur-Aube
bronze armbands from the bronze age!
The fact of the matter is, I have been reminded on multiple occasions that worldbuilding is sometimes a weakness for me in my writing. I'm slow about it-- I take a long time to build up a world in small drips and drabs, and I expect readers to fill in the blanks and be part of the process. Usually this means that I have to go back through and add worldbuilding elements after the fact, because I suck at it the first time. (Seriously. I do. It is a failing, and it requires constant vigilance on my part during revisions.)

With that in mind, I'm still trying to find the proper ornaments for Pirithous in history, so that when I rewrite, I can include those details to help build his world and his character. As I mentioned in my previous post, one of the things I REALLY want to give him, is a solid, chunky, armband. Made of gold, preferably. Wanting to do this, and finding evidence for it in history are two completely and totally different things, however, and while I can make some excuses for Pirithous having foreign or uncommon objects, I can't just manufacture something from nothing without losing the authenticity of his history.
Earring Mycenae Louvre Bj135
Mycenaean earring for Spiral comparison

In the search, I found this bronze armband, and it's from the right period in history, but that's about all that can be said for it. It seems to have been found in Germany -- or if the above examples were not, it's fellow below was -- (I could weep for the fact that its wiki page is in foreign languages, you guys. I cannot read German! or French! I just want to learn!), but it has kind of the same patterning of something from Mycenae, with the chunky spiral. (Not that chunky spirals are at all limited to Mycenae, but... well, it's something.)
GNM - Armberge
Bronze armband from Germany

The problem is, Germanic peoples, be they inhabitants of the Iberian Peninsula, or Germany proper, were kind of a lot far away. It's a stretch to say that Pirithous might have worn something like this, or that he had ever laid eyes on it, even considering the fact that there was quite a bit of trade during the Bronze age, and even with the assumption that Pirithous got around. HOWEVER, if I can find something Egyptian (and is it my imagination or are there a lot of pictures of Egyptians with armbands? even though I cannot for the life of me find any single solidly identified one for this blogpost right now or my book), I might be in business. In fact, I would be golden. Trade with Egypt is perfectly reasonable, and traveler that Pirithous is, it wouldn't be a stretch to say he'd been there or obtained goods from that area of the world.

Unfortunately, my research is turning up less than nothing. Or worse, I'm getting images that have no positive identification as armbands. (Why did we give up on the fashion of armbands? I kind of like them, I'm not going to lie.) So, I'm still surfing. I figure there has to be a painting of something from Egypt with someone wearing an armband that fits my mental image, SOMEWHERE.

Maybe it's time to break out the big encyclopedia sized books off the bottom shelf...


  1. Hmmm... I shall do some digging for you on Egyptian gold armbands and see what I can find.

    That said, those bronze bands are pretty gnarly! (And yes, I just used the word gnarly.)

  2. I swear I've seen pictures with Eyptians wearing armbands too. The search is on!

  3. Thanks Stephanie! And yeah-- I love those bronze armbands. They are actually slightly chunkier than I wanted but generally along the lines of exactly what I was hoping for.

    Lara: Ha!! I know, me too! It's killing me that I'm turning up practically nothing.

  4. Interesting stuff. It might be a way of plotting trade across Europe/Mediterranean in the Bronze Age.

  5. If you want, send me the links to those German and French pages you mentioned. My French is decent, my German slightly spottier, and I have dictionaries! I could at least give you the gist of things. :)

  6. Ralfast: I'm sure someone with more knowledge than I has already done so!

    Anassa: You would be my hero!

  7. Mirmidons were aunts warrior, with long antennae in the head, they were linked with Sherdens, a sea people with spiral on arms, to protect he body from, blade wounds. In Sardinia Nuragic Warriors assemble such a arm-spiral-protectors in the arm and in the neck, and long antennae that recall us, danish warriors, like we see in Copenhagen bronze age museum.


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