Later Archaic Greek gems: finest engravers

The late archaic period (about 525-475 BC) sees the work of the finest engravers, most of them apparently of East Greek origin (Ionian). At this period much of the area was under Persian rule and the example of eastern uses of seals may have been influential but the style is purely Greek as are the subjects. Some important pieces and personalities are chosen here.

Gem image

Agate scarab. A reclining satyr holding a cup, a wine jar before him; they are on their side but this is the correct pose for the gem and there is often some ambivalence of pose in this art. The horse feet are Ionian.

London, Walters, no. 465. 22mm. AGGems no. 93.

Gem image

Cornelian scarab. A boy running with a cup and jug. His hairstyle is Ionian, as seen in statuary.

Once Ionides Coll. 16.5mm. AGGems no. 97.

Gem image

Cornelian scarab. A satyr seizes a sphinx by her hair. The pose is that for more serious attackers in eastern art.

Boston 23.577, LHG no. 17. 17mm. AGGems no. 110.

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Cornelian scarab. A winged scarab beetle; a Phoenician motif, graecized.

Vienna IX 207; Cat. no. *. 15mm. AGGems no. 148.

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Onyx scarab from Amathus, Cyprus. Athena, with wings and wearing her aegis at her back, the gorgon head replaced by a satyr head. the unusual features (aegis, wings) are Ionian features.

London, Walters no. 437. 17mm. AGGems no. 237.

Gem image

Rock crystal scarab. Dionysos holding an ivy branch and cup.

Cambridge, Cat. no. *. 15mm. AGGems no. 242.

Gem image

Plasma scaraboid. A collapsing warrior. The frontal/profile legs are a sculptural motif. the figure in free field is well suited to a gem.

London, Walters no. 264. 17mm. AGGems no. 264.

Gem image

Chalcedony scaraboid. A dog-headed man fights a donkey-headed man; above, a donkey rolling. The animal-head figures are met elsewhere in ionian art.

London 1929.6-10.3. 19.5mm. AGGems no. 293.

Gem image

Agate scarab. A lion seated in a papyrus thicket (Phoenician motif), beside foreparts of a panther and bull.

Munich A 1284; AGDS I, no. *; 18mm. AGGems no. 406.

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Cornelian scarab from Gela, Sicily. A lion attacks a bull.

New York, Richter no. 51. 25mm. AGGems no. 407.

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Plasma scarab. A ram; a common symbol of fertility and wealth, with the owner's name Mandronax.

London, Walters no. 445. 18mm. AGGems no. 131.

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Chalcedony scaraboid from Dimitsana (Arcadia). A sheep, inscribed 'I am of (belong to) Hermotimos'.

Boston 27.689, LHG no. 35bis. 16mm. AGGems no. 516.

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... scarab... A rolling horse, inscribe Aeto, 'of Aetos', owner.

Swiss private collection. ...mm.

Gem image

Chalcedony scaraboid. A sow with piglets, a symbol of fertility and wealth.

Boston 27.692, LHG no. 70. 16mm. AGGems no. 554.

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Cornelian scaraboid. A dog scratching its nose.

Boston 99.356. 11mm. AGGems no. 569.