Chokers look bad on women

The torque in antiquity

A little digression on the use of the choker in European antiquity.

Gauls with torque

Today, the torque is considered the epitome of Celtic warrior jewelry, but what many do not know - not only the Celts, but almost all Central European peoples of antiquity wore the choker with their jewelry.

In ancient times, the torque was used as a choker in many cultures. The name Torque comes from the Latin word torquere: "to turn" and generally stands for a choker that is open to the front. And this was in the Celtic Iron Age, the so-called La Tène period between 500 and 100 BC. BC, widespread among the Celtic tribes.

Spiral ring of the Bronze Age

Although the torque is usually associated with the Celts, chokers were already worn in the form of so-called helical rings in the Bronze Age, and chokers were widespread throughout the Mediterranean and Arab region during antiquity.

Torques and other forms of chokers were worn as jewelry in ancient times by the Celts, Romans, Greeks as well as by Persians, Scythians, Germanic peoples and, most recently in history, by the Vikings. They can be found in large numbers in archaeological finds.

Replicas of historical chokers and torques can be found in the Pera Peris online shop ...

Only the open neck rings are actually considered to be torques in the real sense, but not the equally widespread closed neck rings, but nowadays, for the sake of simplicity, these are usually also referred to as torque.

Snettisham Torque 1st century v

Torques were usually made of bronze, but could also be made of silver and even gold and thus gave their wearer rank and dignity. But even some iron torques are documented.

Torques came in a wide variety of designs. Some of the chokers could be extremely thick and heavy, but they were also often very delicate and thin.

Often the chokers consisted of a smooth or twisted silver wire. But there were also torques with elaborately worked end heads, which in Greek and Roman antiquity were often designed in the form of a ram or other animal figures.

With the Celts of the La Tène period, so-called buffer torques were widespread and in the previous Bronze Age, so-called helical rings were in use.

Celtic puffer torque

With the Germanic tribes of the Migration Period and the Vikings, chokers were mostly made of bronze or silver and were usually rather narrow and thin. The torques could be straight, twisted or braided and mostly ended in a hook and an eye.

But the torque is best known today as a necklace of the Celts, which is probably due to the spectacularly beautiful specimens of Celtic goldsmithing that can be admired in museums today.

There are also a number of Celtic sculptures depicting torques, such as Gudestrup's cauldron, Glauberg's stone stone and the famous portrayal of the dying Gaul.

As trophies of the defeated Celtic tribes, the torque finally came to Rome, where the Romans soon took over the use of the choker.
The originally Celtic torque was thus widespread in Roman antiquity and was soon so popular that the Roman army in late antiquity awarded torques as a kind of medal for well-deserved and high-ranking soldiers.

Centurion with torques

On statues of Roman officers you can see the use of torques as medals, they were not worn on the neck, but were attached to the chest.
In late antiquity, the Roman emperors since Julian the apostate were crowned with a torque instead of a diadem.

It is known that the Germanic military leaders Childerich and Stilicho, who were in Roman service during the Migration Period, wore torques made of pure gold, according to their position. Torques were not very common among the Teutons, but they can also be found in archaeological finds.

Tacitus reported on the Germanic tribe of the Chatti: Some marked their membership in a warrior union by wearing iron neck rings and also kept the wild hairstyle their entire life. They did not get married and let other tribesmen take care of them.

Iron Age Torque

Up until the Migration Period in the 4th century AD, torques were also worn by women in the Germanic region, which is well documented by finds, but in the course of late antiquity it eventually became a purely men's jewelry, until the collar in western central Europe from the Merovingian period disappears completely from the costume as a decorative element.

In the Viking times it was quite common to wear chokers as jewelry, whereby the chokers of the Vikings usually consisted of narrow silver wires in a twisted or braided form, as one could show one's wealth and on the other hand always in an emergency had some money on hand.

It is not for nothing that people speak of so-called hack silver in the Viking era - the amount required was simply chopped off and weighed on a small scale. Finger rings and bracelets were also used in the same way.

Viking torque

So you can see that chokers and torques were extremely popular and widespread in antiquity and are ideally suited as jewelry for most historical representations.

You can find replicas of historical chokers and torques in the Pera Peris online shop ...

Here you can find a broad overview of helical rings, chokers and torques from different epochs from the Bronze Age to the Viking Age:

Written by Peer Carstens, Dippoldiswalde 2012