Calendar Search
Event Calendar

Visit Home Event Calendar Event Information

Mythical Stones: The Appeal of Engraved Gems in the Age of Augustus

Date: Thursday, April 2, 2009
Time: 7:30 p.m.
Location: Getty Villa, Auditorium
Admission: Free; a ticket is required. Call (310) 440-7300 or use the "Get Tickets" button below.

In ancient Rome, carved gems were more than masterpieces of artistry and luxury—they were also influential communication tools.

In this lecture, Dimitris Plantzos, professor of classical archaeology at the University of Ioannina, Greece, reveals the artistic development and social significance of engraved gems in the early days of the Roman Empire, which Romans believed was heir to the greatness of Greek civilization. Emperor Augustus (63 B.C.–A.D 14)—a shrewd propagandist who masterfully exploited the power of images—capitalized on this belief, promoting his reign as a new "Golden Age." Greek myths were re-invented in Roman translation, and engraved gems played a pivotal role in their dissemination. Gem cutters, most of them Greek or trained by Greeks, developed an innovative style that combined older classicist traits with new mythological symbolism.

Popular with the underprivileged as well as educated elites, luxurious intaglios and cameos were vivid reminders of a glorious, ever-present past, signaling the greatness of the newly born empire.

About Dimitris Plantzos
Dimitris Plantzos teaches classical archaeology at the University of Ioannina in Greece. He studied classical archaeology at the Athens and Oxford and has published widely on Greek art and archaeology. Plantzos is the author of Hellenistic Engraved Gems and the co-editor of A Singular Antiquity: Archaeology and Hellenic Identity in Twentieth-Century Greece and the forthcoming A Companion to Greek Art. His recent research focuses on theoretical approaches to classical culture and the history of Greek archaeology in the 19th and 20th centuries, including aspects of cultural reception, nationalism, and globalization.

Gem engraved with Pan gazing at a mask / Roman

How to Get Here
The Getty Villa is located at 17985 Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu, California, approximately 25 miles west of downtown Los Angeles. See Hours, Directions, Parking for directions and parking information.

Event Information by E-Mail
Be the first to know about upcoming lectures, concerts, and exhibitions by signing up for our free e-newsletters. Learn more and sign up now.