Vol. 59 (2023) Current Issue

Published September 1, 2023



  • A Jet Medusa Pendant from Aquincum/Budapest

    A rare jet cameo-pendant with the representation of a Medusa-head came to light south of the canabae of Aquincum during the excavation of a section of the Roman cemetery. Among the jewellery carved from jet, pendants depicting the head of Medusa form a separate group. We know only 21 pieces without this jewel; all of them are distinctive, unique carvings. The pendant from Aquincum belongs to the group of ‘beautiful-pathetic’ Medusa-heads. It could have been made in the 3rd century, based on analogy and on the other grave-goods. There is a possibility that this type of jewellery was made for burials as an apotropaic object.

  • A Possible Interpretation

    This paper attempts to interpret a gem of uncertain date and questionable origin, with Greek inscriptions and letters, and which is in the National Library of France (BNF inv.58.2220). Based on previous interpretations and the surviving impression and description of a pendant which is very similar to it in material and subject, it can be shown that the gem is original, and Christian, based on the depictions on it and the clearly legible word "ΧΡΙCΤΟC".

  • Gemstones from Roman Britain: Recorded in the Portable Antiquities Scheme

    Roman gems have continued to be discovered in Roman Britain and published in archaeological reports and notes since the author completed his Corpus of Gems from British Sites in 1978. A new source of glyptic material can be found in the on-line publication of Portable Antiquities (Portable Antiquities Scheme) which includes intaglios, most of them found without stratigraphical context, by users of metal detectors, though many are set in rings, which provide significant aids in dating. Others were clearly re-used as they are set in seal matrices or medieval rings and were frequently freshly imported at that period from southern Europe. In the High Middle Ages, as in Roman times, intaglios reflect the interests, and patterns of thought of those who wore and valued these beautiful objects.

  • Several Notes on Engraved Gems from Southern Pannonia

    Engraved gems from Eastern Pannonia are well known thanks to the scholarly work of professor Tamás Gesztelyi on the gems from Brigetio, Acquincum, Intercissa and Gorsium. Carnuntum in Western Pannonia yielded more than 1300 engraved gems, thus outnumbering all other findspots in the Province. In order to further complement the topography of gem findspots in Pannonia, this paper provides a brief conspectus of the engraved gems from Siscia in Southern Pannonia.

  • Roman Dams in Asia Minor

    In this brief paper we will focus on six dams of the Roman period in Asia Minor, respectively Böğet, Örükaya, Seleucia Pieria, Ancyra, Aezani and Sardis, which are presented here in some outlines. The aim of this article is to introduce these ancient engineering monuments all together.

  • Kentauren in Noricum

    The head of a centaur found in Virunum, which is a replica of the late-Hellenistic type of the Capitoline “older centaur”, deserves special mention as a depiction of a centaur from Noricum. The extremely high-quality and dynamic centaur frieze from St. Johann near Herberstein (Hartberg – Fürstenfeld district), which originates from a aedicula-tomb, can certainly be regarded as depicting centaurs, as does a relief fragment from Hartberg, which, however, does not come from the same tomb-building. On several reliefs, a sea centaur appears as an idiosyncratic hybrid between triton and centaur, carrying a nereid on its back. These include above all two reliefs from Schloss Seggau near Leibnitz. A single relief comes from Lauriacum in northern Noricum and shows a triton or sea centaur again with a nereid.

  • Gagates: A Magical Gemstone

    The jet stone was used for amulets from antiquity to modern times. Legends and beliefs concerning it flourished. It is black and, being similar to amber, could be burned to obtain a smoke used for magical and medical purposes. Some religious ceremonies used it for attracting snakes. It was often confused with other stones, such as aetites and serpentine and even with agate because it was also called antachates.

  • Il cavallo vittorioso nelle gemme del Museo Archeologico di Venezia: Vincas, Non Vincas, Te Amamus

    In this paper a small group of engraved gems, kept in the glyptic collection of the Archaeological Museum of Venice, is taken into consideration. It is important to underscore their cultural value and our hope is that researches centring on this precious collection might contribute towards the overall progress on glyptic studies. A few intaglios presented here depict victorious horses. In usual iconography horses drawn in profile with a palm branch placed in various positions is the element that permits classification of the gems, into several groups. In the gems under discussion here there are also some intaglios that belong to the group with the image of racing scenes, a very frequent themes in the roman glyptic. Two red jaspers, depicting the chariot race, are very good examples of the elegant simplification of the well-known iconography, the chariot race set in the Circus Maximus: the drawing presents simple and clear shapes with no internal details but with an accuracy displaying the famous cliché of one circus race. The schematic work and the stylistic and technical characteristics of two gems demonstrate the standardisation of the motif and indicate a serial glyptic production during the second century A.D.

  • A Protecting Curse

    The maskelli maskello spell was mostly used to increase the effectiveness of curses on curse tablets and in recipes of magic papyri. Curiously, the incantation appears in the texts of three amulets, one of them on a magic gem preserved in Leiden.

  • Oedipus Riddles

    The paper discusses an interesting group of glass intaglios with the motif of Oedipus and the Sphinx. They are known from sites between the Adriatic, the Danube and the Black Sea, and occur in various colors and cuts, which suggests production in different molds or even workshops. Probably modeled on an intaglio made in an Italian officina gemmaria, the glass replicas may have been produced at Aquileia. The style points to the Late Republican or Augustan era, whereas the material of the glass copies and the funerary context from Aquincum show they were in use and probably produced till the 4 th century. The paper also discusses the possible meanings of the motif, from a simple illustration of the famous heroic adventure to a metaphoric depiction representing the mystic message of the key to a blessed afterlife.

  • Überlegungen zum vermeintlichen Aufenthalt von Galla Placidia im Diokletianpalast in Split

    This paper has two objectives. Firstly, based on Philostorgius' (HE XII,13) claims that the army of Theodosius II crossed Pannonia and Illyricum during the campaign in 424. against the usurper John. This unusually long route to Dalmatia will be examined and considered. In the scientific literature, information can sometimes be found that Galla Placidia had sojourned in the palace of the former Roman Emperor Diocletian in Split during the winter of 424/425. These data lead to the second goal of this paper, namely, to examine possible evidence for such an assertion.

  • Il dipinto di Teodoro Matteini con Angelica e Medoro nella Glittica

    The difficulty of representing the paintings in the gems has determined their lesser success in the glyptic repertoire compared to the representation of the sculptures. However, the engravers received a successful painting, such as the one painted by Teodoro Matteini in 1786: Angelica and Medoro carving their names on the bark of a tree, scene from the Orlando Furioso of Ariosto. This study analyzes the reproduction of the painting in the glyptic. The image appears on high quality intaglios and cameos by famous engravers, such as Giovanni Beltrami, Clemente Pestrini, Domenico Calabresi, who sometimes make variations to the composition; on anonymous gems, and in shell, cheaper material. A cameo mounted on the lid of a box / snuffbox in Ischia’s lava, a fashionable vehicle for the transmission of messages, testifies to the intense diffusion and circulation of Matteini’s painting.

  • Das Hin und Her der Blicke, Eidola in der Pupille Augenförmiger Gemmen: Liebesgeschenke mit Amulettcharakter?

    The presented group of late Republican to early Imperial intagli consists of round layered stones (sardonyx, cornelian onyx) with a flat reverse side, which are strongly convex on the front side. Their horizontally stacked and differently coloured plies are sanded on the front to form concentric rings around a dark centre. The motif incised in this centre looks like an eidolon in the pupil of a 'fisheye'. Most of these motifs can be interpreted against the background of Augustan love poetry. It is possible that gems of this kind were gifts of love and, due to their striking design as an eye, also had an apotropaic function.

  • Eine magische Gemme mit Inschriften im Akademischen Kunstmuseum der Universität Bonn

    The magical gem published here belongs to the Akademisches Kunstmuseum der Universität Bonn (Abb. 1–2.; measurements: 33 x 24 x 6 mm). It stems from the collection of Klaus Müller, who acquired it in the 1960th or 1970th. Obverse and reverse of the gem are filled with inscriptions, most of them consisting of unknown voces magicae, and possibly some meaningless letters to fill the space. On the obverse a prominent inscription invokes Eloe, that is Elohim, the Jewish God, who entered the magic pantheon like Greek and Egyptian ones and under the name of Iaō, even got an image in the figure of the cock-headed, snake-legged warrior. Eloe here means the great magic Sun god, as becomes apparent by Semese(ilam) in col. d 6. The reverse names Thoth, the Moon god. Thus the gem was an amulet for day and night, that is for ever. The bevel of the gem is left plain, so it could have been personalizied by an inscription, which was not the case; thus in its present form the gem was an amulet for every owner.