Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Ringtime For Lovers

For stealing fire from heaven for mortal men, around 15,000 B.C. Prometheus was doomed by Zeus to be chained to a rack where vultures fed on his liver for 3,000 years.  The sentence was commuted, but Zeus insisted that Prometheus wear one line of the chain around his finger as a reminder of his bondage.  And the first ring was born.

 Iron Roman Wedding Band

Did the Neanderthal man whack his main squeeze over the head and haul her away he-man style, or did he drink a pterodactyl juice toast and slip a band of gold on her finger?  We'll never know.       

The first recorded wedding rings seem to have been used in the Third Dynasty of the Old Kingdom in Egypt, around 2700 B.C.  To the Egyptians, a circle, having no beginning or end, signified eternity; and gold was their most precious commodity.

 Egyptian Ring, circa 300 B.C.

 Gold Ring, circa 1353-1323 B.C.

Egyptian Ring from the Tomb of King Tutankhamen

There's also a romantic theory that the ring was placed on the fourth finger of the left hand (what we today commonly call the "ring finger"), in the belief that the vein of this ring finger ran directly to the heart.  Of course, there's a more cynical view: Egyptian texts also suggest that the left is the hand of subjugation.

 Roman Marriage Ring, circa 300 B.C.

In either case, it's probably wisest to demand a double-ring ceremony.

Source: Let There Be Clothes by Lynn Schnurnberger


  1. Very interesting! I've never thought about the history of the ring--thanks for sharing!! =)

  2. interesting, i had never really heard about why we wear rings on the left hand.

  3. Nat and Carrie - Isn't it fun learning new things?! :D