Ancient Items from Asia Minor



A gem (gemma in Latin) can be defined as a small piece of precious or semi-precious stone (the ancients did not make the same distinction as we do) that has been carved and polished, and which is usually set as an ornament in a piece of jewellery or in a variety of other settings (e.g. cult statues, walls, musical instruments, furniture, or even shoes in the case of the emperors Caligula and Elagabalus). Many of these gems are engraved with a device that is either cut in negative (an intaglio), or in positive (a cameo). Intaglios, usually mounted in the bezels of finger rings, are much commoner than cameos, which tend to be larger and set as pendants, or are even, in a few cases, unset objects in their own right. Glass was also used in imitation of more expensive stones. Intaglios, which form the largest part of the present catalogue, had a practical purpose: they served as official or personel seals. Besides this function, intaglios were used as ornaments or as amulets, which were believed to have curative and protective power.

A number of ancient authors wrote about gems but their texts are fragmentary or have not survived. The best accounts are by the fourth century B.C. philosopher Theophrastos (On Stones) and Pliny the Elder (Natural History), who wrote in the first century A.D. What we know today, however, is mainly deduced from the gems themselves.

The Functions of Engraved Gems
Methods of Engraving
The Choice of Designs on Engraved Gems
Dating Engraved Gems


Examples of Gems and Finger Rings


Late Hellenistic and Roman Intaglios
Intaglios from Other Periods
Finger Rings
Late Hellenistic and Roman Sealings

These pages are prepared with the information from the book "Ancient Gems and Finger Rings from Asia Minor, The Yüksel Erimtan Collection " by Koray KONUK and Melih ARSLAN.

In order to get a copy of the book, please contact:

Cinnah Cd. No:102/7
0 312 440 94 00
0 312 440 94 01