Geometric and Early Archaic gems: ivory seals

The types all derive from eastern, mainly Syrian, practice, and are made through the 7th century. The principal shapes are: with a lion or lions cut in the round on their backs - these are mainly East Greek; discs engraved on both sides; and scarabs, sometimes composite scarabs with four faces - these are mainly south Greek in origin, from Corinth, Argos and Sparta. Here are the first truly orientalizing styles in Greek seal-engraving.

2 Gem images

Ivory lion seal, from Emporio in Chios. A sphinx before a tree. This class of seal seems especially popular in the East Greek world.

Chios Museum. *mm. IGems pl. 20e.

Gem image

Ivory disc seal, from the Argive Heraion. A facing sphinx with two bodies - an orientalizing concept, combining frontal with profile views.

Athens. 49mm. GGFR pl.214.

Gem image

Ivory four-faced seal, as four scarabs back to back. Floral and animal subjects.

Oxford 1957.49; Cat. I, no. 36. 18mm. GGFR 2.

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