Late Antique, Early Christian and Jewish gems: the Constantinian revival

A revival of gem cutting occurred early in the 4th century during the reign of Constantine the Great and his sons. A number of very fine gems survive, including some exceptionally large examples cut in rarer materials such as amethyst and sapphire. Most of these stones are engraved with portraits of the emperor, and no Christian narrative scenes are known.

Gem image

Portrait of Constantius II(?), AD 337-361.

Berlin, inv. misc. 30931. Amethyst, 37 x 28 mm.

Gem image

Constantius II hunts a boar in Caesarea, Cappadocia.

Once Milan, Trivulzio collection. Sapphire.

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