Roman Carnelian Intaglio Depicting Three Deities

SKU FJ.6774
Circa

100 AD to 300 AD

Medium

Carnelian

Origin

Mediterranean

Gallery Location

USA


 

This Ancient Intaglio Has Been Mounted in a Modern 18 Karat Gold Ring

The art of glyptics, or carving on colored precious stones, is probably one of the oldest known to humanity. Intaglios, gems with an incised design, were made as early as the fourth and third millennia B.C. in Mesopotamia and the Aegean Islands. The exhibit a virtuosity of execution that suggests an old and stable tradition rooted in the earliest centuries. The tools required for carving gems were simple: a wheel with a belt-drive and a set of drills. Abrasives were necessary since the minerals used were too hard for a metal edge. A special difficulty of engraving intaglios, aside from their miniature size, was that the master had to work with a mirror-image in mind.

The gorgeous orange hue of the carnelian gemstone is astounding. The colors of the gold and the carnelian perfectly complement each other. While this ring appears stunning from afar, the true magnificence of this piece is revealed as one closely inspects the face of the carnelian. Carved in antiquity, the engraved scene of three deities demonstrates the absolute mastery of Roman glyptic artist. The clarity and details of the figures is impressive considering both the density of the material and the compositional constraints of the polished surface. Gazing at this seal, we are witness to a divine scene unfit for human eyes. Three deities proceed to an altar on the far right where a small bowl has been places. Two female goddesses covered from the waist down flank a male god wearing a hat, perhaps a representation of Mars. The three figures line up to make offerings at the altar. The goddess on the far right appears to be placing something into the bowl. Clearly, this mystical scene has lost its meaning over the centuries as the Ancient Roman pantheon faded into the realm of myths and legends. However, although we might not be able to fully grasp the significance of this ancient scene, we can easily appreciate the overwhelming splendor of this ring and the expertise of the carving.

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