EARLY BYZANTINE RING WITH INTAGLIO OF DIANA
Europe or Western Asia (Constantinople?), intaglio 2nd century, setting 5th century
Gold and cornelian
Weight 5.2 gr .; circumference: 55.3 mm.; US size 7.5; UK size P
This ring is one of a diverse group of early Byzantine or Late Antique rings unified by their distinctive bezels. In these bezels, a circle of gold granules surrounds a precious stone and surmounts a reeded, chalice-shaped base. The inclusion of an antique intaglio in the present ring alludes to shifts in taste and techniques in late antiquity. During the third century CE, the carving of cameos and intaglios fell out of fashion in favor of polished cabochons. Antique intaglios and cameos, however, remained highly prized among elite collectors throughout the Roman Empire.
The face of this oval, chalice-shaped reeded bezel of this Byzantine ring is adorned with a circle of gold granules and a profile carnelian intaglio of a woman. The quiver she wears over her shoulder supports her identification as the goddess Diana. The hoop is composed of a thick wire bent into a circle, the join visible where it is attached to the bezel with solder.