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Ring

  • Place of origin:

    Italy (made)

  • Date:

    450 BC-300 BC (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Engraved and chased gold with onyx scarab

  • Museum number:

    8777-1863

  • Gallery location:

    Jewellery, Rooms 91 to 93, The William and Judith Bollinger Gallery, case 4, shelf A, box 7

The earliest known finger rings are about 6000 years old and come from the near East. They evolved from a cylinder seal attached to a hoop of precious metal surrounding the finger. Later the Egyptians used a magical scarab beetle, in stone or imitation stone, with an engraved seal on its base. This was adopted by the Etruscans and Phoenicians, and from it developed the signet ring as a guarantee of authenticity or ownership. The scarab on this ring is beatifully engraved with an intaglio of a seated man. It was probably intended to be used as a seal.

The scarab beetle was thought to be an incarnation of Khepri, an Egyptian sun god associated with resurrection. Because the beetle lays its eggs in a ball of dung and pushes it around, the Egyptians used it as an image and metaphor for the passage of the sun across the sky. The young scarab beetles hatch out of the ball of dung (equivalent to the sun), which emphasizes the concept of new life and rebirth through the sun.

Physical description

Gold hoop with a revolving onyx scarab, decorated on the reverse with a seated male figure. The shoulders of the hoop are chased to imitate wire.

Place of Origin

Italy (made)

Date

450 BC-300 BC (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Engraved and chased gold with onyx scarab

Dimensions

Height: 2.3 cm, Width: 2.2 cm, Depth: 0.9 cm

Object history note

ex Webb Collection

Descriptive line

Gold hoop with a revolving onyx scarab, decorated on the reverse with a seated male figure, the shoulders of the hoop chased to imitate wire, Italy, Etruscan, about 450-300 BC.

Materials

Gold; Onyx

Techniques

Engraving (incising); Chasing

Subjects depicted

Scarabs

Categories

Jewellery; Metalwork; Europeana Fashion Project

Collection

Metalwork Collection

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