In this beautiful golden ring, the mastery of Fatimid craftsmen is on full display. One of the most triumphant dynasties of the medieval world, the Fatimids (909–1171) derived their name from Fatima, daughter of the Prophet Muhammad. They maintained their capital in Cairo, and their empire stretched as far south as Nubia (modern-day Sudan). The Fatimids also established trade relationships with the neighbouring Byzantine Empire (ca. 330–1453), whose capital was Constantinople (modern-day Istanbul). Some Fatimid jewellery has very distinct links to Byzantine objects (see AKM594).
The hemispherical recess on this ring suggests that it may have once held a stone, though rings from the Fatimid period were not usually ornamented with gemstones at the bezel. The ring makes abundant use of filigree (which involves the intertwining of metal threads to form elaborate patterns) and granulation (wherein tiny grains or balls of gold are applied to a surface, either to fill in a design or to create a pattern). While filigree remained one of the hallmarks of the technical accomplishments of Fatimid artisans, the use of granulation eventually fell to the wayside, something that scholar Marc Rosenberg referred to as “the battle of granulation and filigree” in which the latter eventually prevailed.
The trove of medieval documents known as the Cairo Geniza provides a great deal of important information about jewellery production during the Fatimid period. These manuscript fragments found in the Ben Ezra Synagogue in Fustat or Old Cairo, Egypt, indicate prices, terminology, and production details about the goldsmithing and jewellery industry, much of which was staffed by Jewish craftsmen. Filigree, for instance, is referred to as mushhabbak (latticework) in 12th-century trousseau lists from the Cairo Geniza documents.
The Fatimids obtained gold from a number of sources, including nearby mines in Nubia as well as in the Kingdom of Ghana. They also melted down and repurposed metal from older jewellery, a probable fate for many Fatimid pieces which no longer exist today. The infamous looting of the treasury of Fatimid caliph al-Mustansir (1036–94) around 1070 resulted in an irreplaceable loss of many riches from this period.
— Courtney Stewart
 The high raised bezel form is better known in rings from the Seljuq period (ca. 1040–1196).
 See Marilyn Jenkins, “Fatimid Jewelry, Its Subtypes and Influences,” Ars Orientalis, vol. 18 (1988), 40, quoting Marc Rosenberg, “Abteilung: Granulation,” Geschichte der Goldschmiedekunst auf Technischer Grundlage, vol. 3 (Frankfurt: 1918), 96–103.
 See Marilyn Jenkins-Madina, The Glory of Byzantium (New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1997), 419–20, quoting Goitein, A Mediterranean Society: The Jewish Communities of the Arab World As Portrayed in the Documents of the Cairo Geniza, vol. 4, 211–12.
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