Ancient Roman Nicolo Intaglio of a Magical Gryllos

Code: 10255


This is an excavated ancient Roman intaglio, dating to the 1st century A.D. The gem is cut with an image of a magical Gryllos, with the combined heads of both a Sprite and an imperial eagle. It would have once looked very different when new, the intaglio cut on a Nicolo gemstone (the upper layer a light blue, with the lower layer contrasting black). However, at some point in this object's history, it went through an intense heat, similar forensically studied gems from Pompeii and Herculaneum - that supposedly went through a pyroclastic cloud. Thus the gem is crackled with a loss of the bright colours. Such an intaglio would have once been mounted into a signet ring, used as a protective amulet and private signature.

OBJECT: Intaglio


DATE: c. 1st century A.D.

MATERIAL: Nicolo (Arabian Onyx)

SIZE: 12mm x 10mm x 3.3mm 

WEIGHT: 0.75 grams

PROVENANCE: Ex. private collection, London

Ancient Roman Nicolo Intaglio of a Magical Gryllos