Selected and rare materials, excerpts and observations from ancient, medieval and contemporary authors, travelers and researchers about Cyprus.
uses Google technology and indexes only and selectively internet - libraries having books with free public access

page 78

8.Rectangular pierced bead. On each side a floral ornament of simple and archaic design. Half by 3-8ths inch. Light green steatite.
9.With these beads may be placed a well-carved object, representing a calf or ox, standing upon a ring or hollow cylinder. If held with the head downward, this pretty little toy assumes the appearance of a hand grasping a ring. The work is of the style characteristic of Cypriote art, and may be attributed to a considerable antiquity.




HE ancient graves of the inhabitants of Cyprus, I found, yielded many gems and precious stones engraved with various classical and native subjects. Some of these were set in gold or silver rings, either for use as signets, or as mortuary ornaments. Others, again, were not set in any metal, but found lying loose in the earth of the tomb. Many of the subjects engraved on these stones are of early workmanship; all are beautiful. I append a list of the most important examples:—1. Oval, with the head of a bearded man in profile to the right, carved in relief. The curling of the beard and hair forcibly reminds us of the treatment of hair in the Assyrian sculptures. There can be little doubt that this is an Assyrian or Hittite gem. Half-inch long. Deep purple amethyst. (See Plate xv, fig. 65.)
2. Convex oval intaglio. A figure of Jupiter seated, to the left, in profile, at his feet an eagle. The work of this intaglio appears to be Roman, of the first century B.c. Half-inch long. Transparent paste. (See Plate xv, fig. 81.)
3. Convex oval intaglio. A figure of Jupiter seated on a chair or throne, to the left, extending his right hand, in which is an uncertain object. Roman style. 3-8ths inch long. Onyx or niccolo. (See Plate xv, fig. 68.)
4. Circular intaglio. A bust of Jupiter Serapis (fig. 156) in profile, to the left. The beard is long and pointed; the hair rolled or curled at the ends, and filleted. The treatment is manifestly archaic, and the gem may be considered to be of great age, perhaps the second century before Christ. Half-inch long. Ancient gems, resembling the above, with' subjects in intaglio, were especially objects of care and admiration; and especially were those sought after which had upon them subjects such as were fit to be taken with a religious meaning. Hence, fine antique portraits of classical divinities or historical personages are frequently met with by the seal collector, either in the form of matrices, or as original impressions appended to charters, enriched with a legend of Christian import. A good example of this use is shewn in fig. 157 (kindly lent by the British Archaeological Association),1 where a Roman cornelian, engraved in intaglio with a female head, is enclosed in a metal rim, with an inscription shewing that the owner considered the head as a portrait of Jesus Christ, Caput omnium Christus . Numerous instances of the similar treatment of gems could be adduced, where precisely the same result is obtained, but it is unnecessary here to refer to them. It is sufficient to point out that the collections of charters in the British Museum furnish a large quantity of examples that are well worthy of the notice of writers on ancient gems.

Back to Topic