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Engraved Roman-Celtic Flower Gemstone Ring Sz 9 3/4 AD400 $349.99


For Customers outside of USA

Very Elegant and Bold Size 9 3/4 Genuine Ancient Roman-Celtic Flower Motif Bronze Gemstone Ring Fourth or Fifth Century A.D.

CLASSIFICATION: Ancient Roman Bronze Ring with Engraved and Sculpted Gemstone Bezel Featuring a Flower Motif. Antique Handcrafted Nineteenth Century Afghani Lapis Lazuli Semi-Precious Gemstone.

ATTRIBUTION: Eastern Roman Empire Provincial Bithynia (Bosphorus Region of present-day Turkey), Fourth or Fifth Century A.D.

SIZE/MEASUREMENTS: Fits ring size 9 3/4 (U.S.).

Diameter: 27 1/2mm * 22mm (overall dimensions excluding gemstone); 21mm * 20mm (inner diameter).

Bezel: 19mm (breadth) * 16 1/2mm (height) * 2mm (thickness - excluding gemstone).

Gemstone: 11 1/2mm (length) * 9mm (width) * 6mm (thickness). 5.77 carats (approximate weight).

Tapered Width Band: 6 1/2mm (at bezel) * 5mm (at sides) * 5mm (at back).

Weight: 7.99 grams.

CONDITION: Very good. Entirely intact except a portion of tiny ridge retaining gemstone broken away. Evidences only light wear and mild porosity (surface pitting caused by contact with earth while buried). Professionally conserved.

DETAIL: A handsome, nicely constructed Roman bronze ring of bold proportions and character. The ring sports a large, flower-motif bezel which originally held a gemstone. This particular specimen is a relatively sophisticated ring and although crafted in bronze, was nonetheless surely costly. A truly exclusive ring would have been crafted in gold or silver. In the ancient world, silver was fairly rare, and oftentimes half the cost of gold (as opposed to the current ratio of gold being fifty times more expensive than silver). Nonetheless though executed in bronze, this particular ring was definitely well above the ordinary ring of the era. You might notice that besides the fact that it is heavy (and even bronze was costly in the Roman world), and the ring is thrice the weight of the ordinary ring of the era, there are a number of other "upgrade" embellishments.

The perimeter of the bezel has been sculpted in such a way, by cutting and then rounding out notches in the bezel, that it has created a ten-lobed flower. These ten lobes are the accentuated with engraved diagonal lines to further enhance the impression of a flower blossom. And of course originally, in antiquity, the ring possessed a gemstone. You might notice that in the center of the bezel there was a very low "ridge" creating a "bowl" within which the gemstone was originally seated. However the ridge was not an integral part of the bezel, it was rather a bit of metal brazed onto the bezel. Given it is just a small, thin little "ridge", it seems susceptible to breaking off of the bezel; and indeed, whether through wear in the ancient Roman world, or as a consequence of being buried for millennia, most of the "ridge" has broken away. However you can still see the trace of where the ridge once was, and a portion of it still remains attached to the bezel.

Within the "bowl" formed within the perimeter of the little bronze ridge, a gemstone was originally fastened. However the ring was not recovered with the original gemstone it was created with. Romans used many different substances for adhesives, including bitumen (pitch) and various resins. However they all had one characteristic in common, they usually failed sooner or later. So it is most common to find such gemstone rings without the gemstone. True to form, this particular "gemstone" ring was unearthed without its original gemstone. Whether this had anything to do with the fact that most of the "bowl" formed by the tiny bronze ridge brazed onto the bezel had been broken away is uncertain. However surely Roman craftsmen know the limitations of their adhesives, and a bowl within which to seat the gemstone would have held more adhesive, and also protected the stone from potentially dislodging glancing blows.

However clearly the ring once did hold a gemstone, and the empty cavity seemed to invite the remounting of a gemstone. So as to preserve a sense of historical continuity we mounted a large, natural, antique, handcrafted lapis lazuli from the 7,000 year old mines at Badakhshan in Afghanistan, source of lapis lazuli for the ancient Egyptians, Sumerians, Phoenicians, and the rest of the ancient world. The gemstone was hand shaped and polished into this very beautiful oval cabochon by a nineteenth century Russian artisan near Yekaterinburg, Russia, home of one of Russia's most famous gemstone and jewelry production centers, famous for producing the elaborate jewelry of Czarist Russia. Evidence suggests that lapis lazuli has been utilized as a gemstone for at least 10,000 years, making it along with pearls, turquoise, carnelian, and amber amongst the "oldest" gemstones utilized by ancient cultures for decorative purposes.

Lapis Lazuli specimens possess glittering highlights of golden iron pyrite inclusions ("fools gold"). The ancient city of Ur had a thriving trade in lapis lazuli as early as the fourth millennium B.C. The ancient Greek, Egyptian, and Roman cultures also highly favored lapis lazuli. Renaissance artists used ground lapis as pigment for the fabulous blue in the era's masterpieces of art. Still very popular in Eastern Europe, the columns of St. Isaac's Cathedral are lined with lapis, and the Pushkin Palace (both in St. Petersburg) has lapis lazuli paneling! Rather than securing this beautiful gemstone onto the bezel within the "bowl" using bitumen pitch or tree resin as an adhesive, we used a high grade jeweler's epoxy. The gemstone is quite secure, but if you at time in the future wished to remove it, this could easily be accomplished using some thinner or nail polish remover. Though the gemstone is not as old as the ring, given the fact that the Romans made wide use of lapis lazuli in their jewelry, and that lapis lazuli in itself is of historical significance itself in the history of jewelry, it seemed an appropriate gemstone to enhance this ring's beauty.

The ring is quite heavy in its construction. It is three times the weight of the typical ring of the era. The ring could easily be enjoyed by successive generations without becoming "worn out". The heavy construction is of the more archaic style, characteristically made in two pieces; a separately crafted bezel which was brazed to the ring. This as opposed to the more modern style of construction prevalent in the following centuries whereby the bands and bezel are integrated (fashioned from a single piece of metal). The style and intricate details are quite characteristic of Celtic workmanship. The Romans highly regarding Celtic craftsmanship, and articles of jewelry produced by Celtic artisans were highly prized. By the time of Imperial Rome, Celtic artisans could be found scattered throughout the empire. However the specimen also possesses a hallmark feature of the rings produced within the Roman Empire by Celtic artisans, the very distinctive "knob" at the back of the band.

Fate has been kind, and the ring has been preserved in wonderful condition. The scalloped circumferential bezel edge is quite intricate, and evidences very little wear. Likewise the engraved diagonal lines accenting the sculpted petals are deeply incised and likewise show little wear. In fact the only real significant wear evidenced is that whether through use in the ancient world or burial for millennia, much of the ridge forming the "bowl" in which the original gemstone was mounted is broken away. The bands as well remain quite sturdy. Nonetheless though very light, there are unmistakable indications that the ring was worn in the ancient world. However this should not be regarded as a source of disappointment.

You must keep in mind that the ring was produced by an artisan and sold to a patron or consumer with the idea that the ring would be enjoyed and worn by the purchaser. And without any regard to twenty-first century posterity, that precisely what happened! The original Roman owner of this ring wore it, enjoyed it, and probably never could have in his most delusional moment ever dreamed that almost 100 generations later the ring would still exist. It should likewise come as no surprise that upon close inspection are detected the telltale signs that the ring spent thousands of years in the soil.

Porosity is fine surface pitting (oxidation, corrosion) caused by extended burial in caustic soil. Many small ancient metal artifacts such as this are extensively disfigured and suffer substantial degradation as a consequence of the ordeal of being buried for millennia. It is not at all unusual to find metal artifacts decomposed to the point where they are not much more substantial than discolored patterns in the soil. Actually most smaller ancient artifacts such as this are so badly oxidized that oftentimes all that is left is a green (bronze) or red (iron) stain in the soil, or an artifact which crumbles in your hand. However this specimen is not so heavily afflicted. To the cursory inspection of the casual admirer, it simply looks like an ancient ring, nicely surfaced, no immediately discernible blemishes.

You have to look fairly closely to detect the telltale signs indicating the ring was buried for millennia. However there is one spot on one the side of the band toward the bezel where as you can see, the ring was buried in contact with a very caustic soil element, as there is a small pit at that point in the band. Notwithstanding this one spot, the extent pf porosity or oxidation is very, very light. This ring spent fifteen or sixteen centuries buried, yet by good fortune there is only the one significant spot of corrosion evidenced. It happened to come to rest in reasonably gentle soil conditions. Consequentially, the integrity of the artifact remains intact, and despite the light wear and the very mild porosity, the rings remains quite handsome, very rugged, and entirely wearable.

The ring's overall integrity is relatively undiminished by the passage of time, and it has been professionally conserved. The ring is quite sturdy, beautifully toned with a bright, golden color which almost gives the appearance of ancient gold, quite handsome, though of course unmistakably bronze. The Romans were very fond of ornate personal jewelry including bracelets worn both on the forearm and upper arm, brooches, pendants, hair pins, earrings, intricate fibulae and belt buckles, and of course, rings. This is an exceptional piece of Roman jewelry, a very handsome artifact, and eminently wearable. Aside from being significant to the history of ancient jewelry, it is also an evocative relic of one of the world's greatest civilizations and than ancient world's most significant military machine; the glory and light which was known as the "Roman Empire".

HISTORY: Bronze is the name given to a wide range of alloys of copper, typically mixed in ancient times with zinc or tin. The Bronze Age followed the Neolithic, and as the name implies, saw the production of bronze tools, weapons and armor which were either hard or more durable than their stone predecessors. Traditionally archaeology has maintained that the earlier bronze was produced by the Maikop, a proto-Indo-European, proto-Celtic culture of Caucasus prehistory around 3500 B.C. Recent evidence however suggests that the smelting of bronze might be as much as several thousand years older. Shortly after the emergence of bronze technology in the Caucasus region, bronze technology emerged in ancient Mesopotamia, Egypt, the Levant (Eastern Mediterranean), Anatolia (Turkey) and the Iranian Plateau. By the late fourth to early third millennium B.C. many Bronze Age Cultures had emerged. Some of the more notable were the Celtic cultures of Middle Europe stretching from Hungary to Poland and Germany, including the Urnfield, Lusatian, and (Iron Age Transitional) Hallstatt Cultures.

The Shang in ancient China also developed a significant Bronze Age culture, noted for large bronze burial urns. Britain's Bronze Age cultures included the Beaker, Wessex, Deverl, and Rimbury. Cornwall was the principle source of tin not only for Britain but exported throughout the Mediterranean, and copper was produced from the Great Orme mine in North Wales. Though much of the raw minerals may have come from Britain (and to a lesser extent Spain), it was the Aegean world which controlled the trade in bronze. The great seafaring Minoan Empire appears to have controlled, coordinated, and defended the Bronze Age trade. Tin and charcoal were imported into Cyprus, where locally mined copper was mined and alloyed with the tin from Britain. It appears that the Bronze Age collapsed with the Minoan Empire, to be replaced by a Dark Age and the eventual rise of the Iron Age Myceneans. Evidence suggests that the precipitating event might have been the eruption of Thera and the ensuing tsunami, which was only about 40 miles north of Crete, the capital of the Minoan empire.

It is known that the bread-basket of the Minoan empire, the area north of the Black Sea lost population, and thereafter many Minoan colony/client-states lost large populations to extreme famines or pestilence. Thus with the end to the shipping of tin throughout the Mediterranean the Bronze Age trade network is believed to have failed, and the end of the Bronze Age and the rise of the Iron age is normally associated with the disturbances created by large population movements in the 12th century B.C. The end of the Bronze Age saw the emergency of new technologies and civilizations which heralded the new Iron Age. Although iron was in many respects much inferior to bronze (steel was still thousands of years away), iron had the advantage that it could be produced using local resources during the dark ages that followed the Minoan collapse. Bronze also resists corrosion and metal fatigue better than iron. Bronze was still used during the Iron Age, but for many purposes the weaker iron was sufficiently strong to serve in its place. As an example, Roman officers were equipped with bronze swords while foot soldiers had to make do with iron blades.

Most ancient jewelry typically used one or more of three gemstones; carnelian, turquoise, and lapis lazuli. Some of the most splendid ancient jewelry ever unearthed by archaeologists was found in Queen Pu-abi's tomb at Ur in Sumeria dating from the 3rd millennium B.C., and in the ancient Egyptian Pharaoh Tutankhamen's tomb. In Queen Pu-abi's crypt she was laid to rest covered with a robe of gold, silver, lapis lazuli, carnelian, agate, and chalcedony beads. The lower edge of the robe was decorated with a fringed border of small gold, carnelian, and lapis lazuli cylinders. Near her right arm were three long gold pins with lapis lazuli heads, and three amulets in the shape of fish.

Two of the fish amulets were made of gold and the third was lapis lazuli. On the queen's head were three diadems each featuring lapis lazuli. The famous mask covering the head of Tutankhamen's mummy was inlaid primarily in lapis lazuli, with accents of turquoise and carnelian. Many other pieces of jewelry and various amulets fashioned from lapis lazuli were also found within the tomb. Lapis lazuli was also certainly popular in 3,100 B.C. with the Egyptians who used it in medicines, pigments, eye shadow, and of course, jewelry. Lapis lazuli has also been used since ancient times for mosaics and other inlaid work, carved amulets, vases, and other objects.

One of the greatest civilizations of recorded history was the ancient Roman Empire. In exchange for a very modest amount of contemporary currency, you can possess a small part of that great civilization in the form of a 2,000 year old piece of jewelry. The Roman civilization, in relative terms the greatest military power in the history of the world, was founded in the 8th century (B.C.). In the 4th Century (B.C.) the Romans were the dominant power on the Italian Peninsula, having defeated the Etruscans and Celts. In the 3rd Century (B.C.) the Romans conquered Sicily, and in the following century defeated Carthage, and controlled the Greece. Throughout the remainder of the 2nd Century (B.C.) the Roman Empire continued its gradual conquest of the Hellenistic (Greek Colonial) World by conquering Syria and Macedonia; and finally came to control Egypt in the 1st Century (B.C.).

The pinnacle of Roman power was achieved in the 1st Century (A.D.) as Rome conquered much of Britain and Western Europe. For a brief time, the era of "Pax Romana", a time of peace and consolidation reigned. Civilian emperors were the rule, and the culture flourished with a great deal of liberty enjoyed by the average Roman Citizen. However within 200 years the Roman Empire was in a state of steady decay, attacked by Germans, Goths, and Persians. In the 4th Century (A.D.) the Roman Empire was split between East and West. The Great Emperor Constantine temporarily arrested the decay of the Empire, but within a hundred years after his death the Persians captured Mesopotamia, Vandals infiltrated Gaul and Spain, and the Goths even sacked Rome itself. Most historians date the end of the Western Roman Empire to 476 (A.D.) when Emperor Romulus Augustus was deposed. However the Eastern Roman Empire (The Byzantine Empire) survived until the fall of Constantinople in 1453 A.D.

At its peak, the Roman Empire stretched from Britain in the West, throughout most of Western, Central, and Eastern Europe, and into Asia Minor. Valuables such as coins and jewelry were commonly buried for safekeeping, and inevitably these ancient citizens would succumb to one of the many perils of the ancient world. Oftentimes the survivors of these individuals did not know where the valuables had been buried, and today, two thousand years later caches of coins and rings are still commonly uncovered throughout Europe and Asia Minor. Roman Soldiers oftentimes came to possess large quantities of "booty" from their plunderous conquests, and routinely buried their treasure for safekeeping before they went into battle. If they met their end in battle, most often the whereabouts of their treasure was likewise, unknown.

Throughout history these treasures have been inadvertently discovered by farmers in their fields, uncovered by erosion, and the target of unsystematic searches by treasure seekers. With the introduction of metal detectors and other modern technologies to Eastern Europe in the past three or four decades, an amazing number of new finds are seeing the light of day two thousand years or more after they were originally hidden by their past owners. And with the liberalization of post-Soviet Eastern Europe, new markets have opened eager to share in these treasures of the Roman Empire.

SHIPPING: These antiquities come from a number of collections which by and large originated here in Eastern Europe. As well, additional specimens are occasionally acquired from other institutions and dealers, principally in Eastern Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean. All of these artifacts are now in the United States and are available for immediate delivery via U.S. Mail. All purchases are backed by an unlimited guarantee of satisfaction and authenticity. If for any reason you are not entirely satisfied with your purchase, you may return it for a complete and immediate refund of your entire purchase price. A certificate of authenticity (COA) is available upon request.

Our order fulfillment center near Seattle, Washington will ship your purchase within one business day of receipt of your personal check or money order. If you wish to pay electronically, we accept both PayPal and BidPay. However we ask that you PLEASE WAIT before remitting until we have mutually agreed upon method of shipment and shipping charges and you understand our PayPal limitations and policies (stated here). We will ship within one business day of our receipt of your electronic remittance.

A certificate of authenticity (COA) is available upon request. We prefer your personal check or money order over any other form of payment - and we will ship immediately upon receipt of your check (no "holds"). Please see our "ADDITIONAL TERMS OF SALE."