We know that Rome imposed her usages on all the peoples whom she subjugated. Consequently, following this universal law, the Spaniards would adopt, together with the lavish luxury of Rome, the Roman ornaments and articles of jewellery. Such were the annulus or finger-ring; the fibula, a brooch or clasp for securing the cloak; the torquis or neck-ring, more or less resembling those in use among the Persians; and the phalera, a round plate of gold, silver, or other metal, engraved with any one of a variety of emblems, worn upon the breast or stomach by the persons of either sex, and very commonly bestowed upon the Roman soldiers in reward of military service. Then there were several kinds of earrings - the variously-designed stalagmium or pendant, the inaures, or the crotalium, hung with pearls that brushed together as their wearer walked, and gratified her vanity by their rustling; and also several kinds of bracelets - the gold or bronze armilla, principally worn by men; the periscelis, the spathalium, and the dextrale, worn round the fleshy part of the right arm.1
Discoveries of Roman jewellery and gold and silver work have occurred from time to time in the Peninsula; for example, at Espinosa de Henares and (in 1840) near Atarfe, on the southern side of the volcanic-looking Sierra Elvira, a few miles from Granada. Riano describes a Roman silver dish found in a stone quarry at Otanez, in the north of Spain. " It weighs thirty-three ounces, and is covered with an ornamentation of figures in relief, some of which are gilt, representing an allegorical subject of the source of medicinal waters. In the upper part is a nymph who pours
1 These ornaments were retained in use by the Visigoths, and find their due description in the Etymologies of Saint Isidore; e.g.: -
"Inaures ab aurium foraminibus nuncupatae, quibus pretiosa genera lapidum dependuntur."
"Tourgues sunt circuli aurei a collo ad pectus usque dependentes. Torques autem et bullae a viris geruntur; a foeminis vero monilia et catellae."
"Fibulae sunt quibus pectus foeminarum ornatur, vel pallium tenetur: viris in humeris, seu cingulum in lumbris." water from an urn over rocks; a youth collects it in a vessel; another gives a cup of it to a sick man; another fills with it a barrel which is placed in a four-wheeled car to which are yoked two mules. On each side of the fountain are altars on which sacrifices and libations are offered. Round it is the inscription: salvs vmeritana, and at the back are engraved, in confused characters, the words: l. p. corneliani. piii...."
The same author is of opinion that in the time of the Romans "objects of all kinds in gold and silver were used in Spain to a very great extent, for, notwithstanding the destruction of ages, we still possess inscriptions which allude to silver statues, and a large number of objects in the precious metals exist in museums and private collections." Doubtless, in the case of articles and household utensils of smaller size - bowls, dishes, and the like, or ornaments for the person - the precious metals were made use of freely; but when we hear of mighty objects as also made of silver, e.g. principal portions of a building, we might do well to bear in mind a couple of old columns that were standing once not far from Cadiz, on a spot where in the days preceding history a temple sacred to the Spanish Hercules is rumoured to have been. Philostratus affirmed these columns to be wrought of solid gold and silver, mixed together yet in themselves without alloy. Strabo reduced them modestly to brass; but it was reserved for a curious Frenchman, the Pere Labat, who travelled in Spain in 1705, to warn us what they really were. "Elles sont sur cette langue de terre, qui joint l'lsle de Leon a celle de Cadix; car il faut se souvenir que c'est ainsi qu'on appelle la partie Orientale, et la partie Occidentale de la meme Isle. Il y a environ une lieue de la porte de Terre a ces venerables restes de l'antiquite. Nous nous en approchames, croyant justifier les contes que les Espagnols en debitent. Mais nous fumes etrangement surpris de ne pas rencontrer la moindre chose qui put nous faire seulement soupconner qu'elles fussent d'une antiquite un peu considerable. Nous vimes que ces deux tours rondes, qui n'ont a present qu'environ vingt pieds de hauteur sur douze a quinze pieds de diametre, etoient d'une maconnerie fort commune. Leurs portes etoient bouchees, et nous convinmes tous qu'elles avoient ete dans leur jeune terns des moulins a vent qu'on avoit abandonnes; il n'y a ni inscriptions, ni bas-reliefs, ni reste de figures quelconques. En un mot, rien qui meritat notre attention, ni qui recompensat la moindre partie de la peine que nous avions prise pour les aller voir de pres. Car je les avois vue plus d'une fois du grand chemin, ou j'avois passe, et je devois me contenter. Mais que ne fait-on pas quand on est curieux, et aussi desoeuvre que je l'etois alors."
Many of the usages of Roman Spain descended to the Visigoths. The jewels of this people manifest the double influence of Rome and of Byzantium, and the latter influenced in its turn from Eastern sources. We learn from that extraordinary encyclopaedia of early mediaeval Spanish lore - the Etymologies of Isidore of Beja - that the Visigothic women decked themselves with earrings, necklaces, and bracelets, set with precious stones of fabulous price. Leovigild is stated by the same writer to have been the first of the Visigothic princes to use the insignia of royalty. One of his coins (engraved in Florez) represents him with an imperial crown surmounted by a cross resembling that of the Byzantines. Coins of a similar design, and also bearing the imperial crown, were minted at Toledo, Cordova, or Merida, in the reigns of Chindaswint, Wamba, Ervigius, and Egica.
But the true fountain-head of all our modern knowledge respecting the jewellery of Visigothic Spain is in the wonderful crosses, crowns, and other ornaments discovered in 1858 upon the site of some old Christian temple, two leagues distant from Toledo. These objects, known collectively as "the treasure of Guarrazar," were stumbled on by certain peasants after a heavy storm had washed away a quantity of earth. Some were destroyed upon the spot; others were sold to the Toledo silversmiths and melted down by these barbarians of our day; but fortunately the greater part remained intact, or very nearly so. There were in all, composed exclusively of gold and precious stones, eleven crowns, two crosses containing legible inscriptions, fragments such as the arms of a processional cross, and many single stones which time had doubtless separated from the crosses or the crowns.1