The J. Paul Getty Museum

Cameo Gem with Minerva set into a Hollow Ring

Object Details

Title:

Cameo Gem with Minerva set into a Hollow Ring

Artist/Maker:

Unknown

Culture:

Roman

Date:

1st century A.D.

Medium:

Gem: chrome chalcedony; ring: gold

Object Number:

88.AN.13

Dimensions:

1.8 × 1.1 × 1.3 cm (3/4 × 7/16 × 1/2 in.)

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Object Description

A bust of Minerva (Greek: Athena) has been set into the bezel of this hollow gold ring. She wears a snake-edged aegis and a Corinthian helmet in her role as warrior goddess. Similar in function to an amulet, a ring with a portrait of a divinity brought the wearer under the deity's protection. Minerva, who was very popular as a motif on such rings, was often a protectress of heroes such as Herakles or Theseus. She was also connected with skilled crafts and healing. Although the stone of this cameo is chalcedony, it looks very like emerald, a stone particularly prized by the Romans. The extremely high relief carving of this gem is unusual for a ring.