Comic Face Pendant

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Comic Face Pendant

Circa 600 B.C. – end of the 3rd century B.C.
H: 4.1cm x W: 2.6 cm, Diameter: 2.5cm




A glass bead in the shape of a bearded male head. The head is created on the turquoise base of the bead with a translucent yellow face and modelled nose and ears, with white and blue additions to create the other facial features. A row of tightly spiralled blue curls runs across the top of the face, with strong eyebrows and the beard, incised with lines for texture, in the same colour. The eyes are created in the typical style for these beads, with three successive dots in blue, white, and then another blue, to create an outline, sclera, and pupil. Further adornment is provided in the form of raised white dots, one in the centre of the forehead, two on the tips of the eyebrows, and one on each ear. The turquoise suspension ring for hanging the bead at the top of the head also serves as the turban. This is a large example of the type, with excellent fire polish. The head is fragmented at the mouth, with part of the beard broken away.

The ancient society of Phoenicia originated in modern Lebanon, but its reach spread across the Mediterranean region from 1200 B.C., with territories ranging from the Syro-Palestinian coast to north Africa. They were skilled glassworkers, with great technical proficiency, and developed unique beads using core forming. These beads were traded throughout the eastern littoral of the Mediterranean and Egypt. In the ninth century, centres of glassmaking were revived, including the powerful port city of Carthage. Face beads were produced in these centres, and remained in vogue until the end of the third century B.C.. Pendants such as this one, with bearded men’s heads, are the most well-known cultural production of the Phoenicians today. Crafted using similar techniques to core-molded vessels, with contrasting coloured features applied either in relief of marvered (pressed into the face). Pendants have been found in various sites across the region of the Levantine coast, both as individual artefacts and as part of larger pieces of jewellery. For instance, a necklace found at the necropolis of Fontana Noa in Olbia is composed of eighteen beads, including five pendant heads.


Love for Antiquity: Selections from the Joukowsky Collection, Bell Gallery, List Art Center, Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island, 12 October – 8 November 1985.


Rolf Winkes (ed.), Love for Antiquity: Selections from the Joukowsky Collection (Lovain-la-Neuve, Belgium, 1985), no. 35, pp. 43-44.


Previously in the Private Collection of Artemis Joukowsky (1930-2020) and Martha Sharp Joukowsky (1936-2022), from at least 1985, probably acquired in the 1960s (based on other collection dated inventory cards).
Thence by descent.
ALR: S00234507, with IADAA Certificate, this item has been checked against the Interpol database.

Note on the Provenance

Martha Sharp Joukowsky (1936-2022) was born in Montague, Massachusetts, in 1936. Her Unitarian family imparted her with a strong sense of social justice; her parents were heavily involved in humanitarian efforts to support refugees during World War II. She studied at Brown University, Rhode Island, where she met and married Artemis Joukowsky (1930-2020) in 1956.

After they both graduated, the family moved to follow Artemis’ job as a senior executive at the American-International Group: the Joukowskys moved to Italy in 1960, then Lebanon from 1961 to 1972, and then to Hong Kong, before returning to America in 1974. While living in Beirut, the pair travelled extensively throughout the Levant, and Martha achieved her MA in Archaeology from the American University of Beirut in 1972. Here Martha began her career-long involvement with archaeological fieldwork across the world, participating in the American University in Beirut’s excavations at Tell el-Ghassil in the Beqaaa Valley. The Bronze Age and Iron Age ceramics found at the site became the subject of her Master’s thesis. She also worked at Sarepta (modern Sarafand), a Phoenician city on the Lebanese coast. Whilst in Hong Kong, she led fieldwork at the Neolithic site of Sham Wan. Martha was also involved in the New York University excavations at Aphrodisias, Turkey, for over a decade, on the excavations at the Catelluccian village of La Muculufa in Sicily, and on the excavations of Paleopolis in Corfu. She showed a great ability to work on diverse locations and cultures, as well as historical periods, and accomplished all this whilst raising three young children at a time when female archaeologists were highly uncommon.

After returning to America, Martha received her PhD from the Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne University in 1982, with her dissertation on the prehistory of western Anatolia (published as Prehistoric Aphrodisias in 1996). She took a position at Brown University as Professor of Old World Archaeology and Art and of Anthropology in 1982, and was rewarded an honorary doctorate by the university in 1985. Martha held this post until her retirement in 2002; she loved teaching, and would sometimes set up sandboxes containing buried potsherds for her archaeology classes at Brown, in order to teach proper excavation and recording techniques. Martha directed the Petra Great Temple Excavations from 1992 to 2009, leading hundreds of excavators even into her seventies. There was little physical evidence of the monumental Great Temple before Martha and her team began unearthing it, and it proved to be one of the city’s greatest buildings. Some of her favourite discoveries were fragments of 120 sculpted elephant-headed capitals, which raised new questions about the Nabataeans who built the temple and the reach of their culture. Between 1989 and 1993, Martha served as the President of the American Institute of Archaeology.

Artemis also returned to their alma-mater, joining the Brown Corporation’s Board of Trustees in 1985, serving as Vice Chancellor from 1988 to 1997, and as Chancellor from 1997 to 1999. He continued to serve on the Corporation until 2009. He served as co-founder of the Brown Sports Foundation, chaired the Public Arts Committee, and supported improved public and green spaces on campus. Artemis was also board president of the American Center of Research (ACOR) from 1992 until 2011, when he was elected to emeritus status; in 1997, they presented him with the W. F. Albright Award for his distinguished service. He spent his summers in Jordan as photographer for the Petra Great Temple Project.

The couple were well-loved at Brown, with Artemis a recognisable figure at sporting events for many decades, and going on to write both a history of Brown football, and a history of Brown crew. The Joukowskys endowed a professorship in gastroenterology, as well as the creation of the Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology and the Ancient World in 2004. Martha personally presided over all the graduation ceremonies at the Institute until her health no longer allowed her to do so. Their home, outside of which stands a replica of an elephant-headed column from Petra, was opened to students as a place to read, talk, study, and have a warm beverage and cookies. They had three children, Nina Joukowsky Koprülü, Artemis Joukowsky III, and Michael Joukowsky, eight grandchildren, and dozens of pet dogs. Several of the dogs were named after figures from ancient cultures, such as Dushara, the Nabataean god worshipped at Petra, the Phoenician god Melqart, Caesar, and Pompey.