This is an ancient Roman iron intaglio ring, dating to the 1st century B.C. to the 1st century A.D. It is set with its original Nicolo glass gemstone, molded with an image of a female Sphinx.
Iron rings were worn by true 'patriots' of Rome, who shunned gold examples of the Barbarians and Greeks in favour of a manly iron version. Iron is the metal of Mars (god of War), durable, strong and can withstand combat. Though, unlike gold, Iron is susceptible to corrosion, such as this excavated piece. Originally this ring would have appeared silver, set with an expensive looking Nicolo intaglio. The intaglio represents a female 'Greek' Sphinx, of a type used as the imperial seal of Emperor Augustus.
This ring dates to the Augustan period, possibly a little later to the time of Claudius. It is in excavated condition, heavily corroded, but intact. A rare survivor and collectable example of an ancient Roman ring
OBJECT: Intaglio Ring
DATE: c. 50 B.C. - 50 A.D.
MATERIAL: Iron & Nicolo Glass
SIZE: 20mm x 20mm x 14mm (intaglio 8mm x 6mm)
WEIGHT: 6.3 grams
PROVENANCE: Ex. European private collection