Roman Gold Ring with Carnelian Intaglio of a Gryllos Eagle and Man


A fine Ancient Roman gold ring featuring a thick gold D-section loop attached to a circular raised bezel. The carnelian inset is framed in gold and has been carefully carved with a gryllos, a combination of an eagle and man. Both are facing right; the eagle displays intricate characteristics including the large beak and delicate feathers. Below the bird’s beak is the incised man.

Closest UK ring size: M

Date: Circa 1st-3rd century AD
Condition: Excellent condition

In stock

SKU: LD-428 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 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 6.63 g
Dimensions W 1.9 cm


Semi-Precious Stones


Reference: For a similar intaglio,Christie’s, New York, Ancient Jewelry, 5th December 2012, lot 405

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