Ancient Roman Gold Ring with Carnelian Intaglio of Serapis


An Ancient Roman gold ring featuring a D-section hoop and slightly expanding shoulders. The oval bezel is set with a large carnelian intaglio, finely engraved with the bust of Serapis facing left. The god is portrayed as a robed and bearded figure, recognisable by his typical attribute: the modius, a flat-topped cylindrical headpiece found in the Egyptian and Graeco-Roman world.

Closest UK ring size: F

Date: Circa 1st – 3rd Century AD
Condition: Fine condition, with clear definition of the intaglio and some signs of ageing to the gold.

In stock

SKU: MG-208 Category: Tags: ,

The term intaglio refers to a small image that has been engraved into a gemstone and 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 the late Imperial Rome, until a revival of interest with the Byzantine and during the Renaissance.

The subject used for intaglios are diverse, with depictions of deities being a favourite theme. Serapis (Σέραπις) is a Graeco-Egyptian composite deity, blending the transformative powers of the Egyptian gods Osiris and Apis with the heavenly authority of the Greek god Zeus. His cult was developed under the Ptolemaic ruler Ptolemy I Soter (305-282 BC) as a means to unify his Greek and Egyptian subjects, and later gained popularity throughout the Roman Empire, until it was banned under Theodosius I (AD 379-395).

To find out more about intaglios and Roman gods, please visit our relevant blog posts: Engraved Gemstones in Ancient Rome and Roman Gods in Mythology.

Weight 4.47 g
Dimensions L 2.1 x W 2.2 cm



Semi-Precious Stones

Roman Mythology

Reference: For a similar intaglio, please see The British Museum, item OA.9916

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