Pair of gold and agate cameo earrings

Carved in two layers, white on black, with the head of Gorgo Medusa framed by thick curly hair, wings visible, the face well defined with articulated eyes; mounted as gold earrings

The head of Medusa, also known as the gorgoneion, was perhaps "the most ubiquitous subject employed for cameos" during the Roman Period (p. 183 in M. Henig and H. Molesworth, The Complete Content Cameos). When used in jewelry it was thought to have amuletic or apotropaic properties, conferring protection to the wearer, including from the Evil Eye. During the Roman period, the type is typically shown either frontally or slightly turned, with wings in her hair, the face framed by serpents. The most common materials were sardonyx, chalcedony, carnelian or glass imitating them. It is mounted as earrings in their original Roman gold frame.

Roman period, 2nd-3rd century A.D.
H. 1.32 cm (0 33⁄64 in)

Frank Sternberg, 14 December 1983
Ars Antiqua SA, acquired from the above
Private collection, Switzerland, by descent

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