Ancient Roman Carnelian Double Sided Intaglio Stone with Minerva

£ 1,250.00

An Ancient Roman carnelian intaglio stone featuring carvings on both sides. Depicted to the front is Minerva, the goddess of war and wisdom. She is shown standing and facing right, draped in a voluminous peplos. Her attributes are finely carved on the stone: a well-defined helmet atop her head, a long spear wielded in her right hand and a phiale in her left. The stone’s field is further adorned by a large shield, which stands upright on the ground, and a dedicated fire altar to the goddess’ right. To the reverse, an equestrian scene sees a large horse with its rider carved horizontally. The man is depicted while holding a spear, suggesting a prelude to a combat or triumphal scene.

Date: Circa 1st – 3rd Century AD
Provenance: From a family collection formed pre 1988, thence by descent.
Condition: Fine condition, with clear definition of the intaglio.
Product Code: RES-149
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. Minerva is a major component of the Roman pantheon, being one of the three deities in the Capitoline Triad, along with Jupiter and Juno. Her cult evolved from the Etruscan deity Menvra, who was gradually Hellenised during the 3rd-4th century BC and adopted within the Ancient Greek religion as Athena. The Roman Minerva appropriated the Greek iconography and is often depicted wearing a soldier’s helmet and small shield.

To discover more about Intaglios, please visit our relevant blog post: Intaglios: Miniature Masterpieces.

Dimensions L 1.5 x W 1.1 cm

Southern Europe

Semi-Precious Stone


Roman Mythology


Reference: For a similar item, please see The British Museum, item 1814,0704.2806

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