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This is an ancient Roman hardstone cameo of an Owl, dating to the 1st - 2nd century A.D. The gem is nicely cut on two-layer sardonyx, with the background a vivid orangey-red. The owl is cut on the light orangy-white layer, which contrasts with the background. The diminutive size of this gem would indicate it was originally set into a gold finger ring. The Owl was sacred to the goddess Minerva (Athena), known in the ancient world as the Owl of Athena indicative of knowledge and wisdom.
This is an excellent ancient cameo in good excavated condition. It has a minor edge chip and marks commensurate with age. Photos are a fair representation of the condition.
DATE: c. 1st - 2nd century A.D.
SIZE: 8mm x 5mm x 3mm
WEIGHT: 0.15 grams
PROVENANCE: Formerly in a private collection, Leicestershire.