Ancient Roman Agate Intaglio with Jupiter-Serapis

£ 595.00

An exceptional, Roman, oval agate intaglio carved with the image of Jupiter-Serapis enthroned. The god is portrayed wearing a flat-topped headpiece, with a modus on top, holding a sceptre in his right hand. A flying Victory can be seen in the field to his right. A small zoomorphic figure, most likely an eagle, accompanies the deity by his leg. The composition is typical of scenes showcasing Jupiter, whilst the fusion of the god Serapis can be seen by the additional modus headpiece.

The piece comes with a professionally baked, modern impression.

Date: Circa 1st-2nd century AD
Provenance: From the collection of a Swiss gentleman formed in Europe from 1970-1980s; thence by descent from the family in London.
Condition: Fine condition. Hairline crack to the bottom. The intaglio itself weighs 0.82g.

In stock

SKU: CY-172 Category: Tags: , , ,

The term intaglio refers to a small image that has been engraved into a material, most commonly a gemstone. Such an artistic form has its origin in Sumer in the 4th millennium BC, with the appearance of cylinder and stamp seals, whereby decorations and patterns were engraved into soft stones. During the Hellenistic period and the early Roman Empire, the art of intaglio reached its apogee.

The subjects used for intaglios are diverse, with depictions of deities and mythical creatures being a favourite theme. This intaglio depicts the syncretic deity of Jupiter-Serapis, who was especially popular in the Roman Imperial period. Jupiter was already widely known and worshipped, the Roman king of the gods associated with thunder, lightning and storms in Ancient Roman mythology. Regarded as the equivalent to the Ancient Greek Zeus, his iconography was appropriated from the Hellenistic tradition. Throughout Italy, he was worshipped on the summit of hills, with the Temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus on the Capitoline Hill in Rome being the most important site dedicated to the god. Serapis, was a deity popular within Egypt, already a syncretic deity fused together in Ptolemaic Egypt. Serapis combined the worhip of both Osiris and the Apis bull, but appealed to the wider Greco-Egyptian community.

To find out more about intaglios, please visit our relevant blog post: Engraved Gemstones in Ancient Rome.

To discover more about Roman deities, please visit our relevant blog post: Roman Gods in Mythology

Weight 1.93 g
Dimensions L 1.3 x W 1.1 cm


Roman Mythology

, ,

Semi-Precious Stones

Reference: For a similar item,The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, item 10.130.1388.

You may also like…