Ancient Roman Gold Ring with Banded Agate Intaglio of a Gryllos


A very fine ancient Roman gold ring featuring a thin hoop which widens at three points each embellished with different engraving including flowers and a leaf. The octagon bezel is enriched with a banded agate intaglio.The semi-precious stone has been carefully carved with a gryllos of two men facing opposite ways. One is a clean shaven youthful man while the other is a bearded older man.

Closest UK ring size: P

Date: Circa 1st – 3rd Century AD
Condition: Fine condition. Very minor abrasions on the gold consistent with age.

In stock

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The term intaglio refers to a small image that has been engraved into a gemstone and is usually set in a piece of jewellery, most commonly a ring. Such 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, with there being a steady decline in craftsmanship in late Imperial Rome, until a revival of interest with the Byzantine and during the Renaissance.

The subjects used for intaglios are diverse, with depictions of deities and mythical creatures being a favourite theme. Combinations of human heads and animal parts are known as grylloi (γρύλλοι). While being an amusing and favoured decorative motif, grylloi served apotropaic functions to ward off the evils. As explained by Plutarch in the Quaestiones Convivales, they had the ability to “attract the evil eye and thus lessens its force against its victims”.

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

Weight 3.31 g
Dimensions W 2.1 x H 2.2 cm


Semi-Precious Stones


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