Circular gem with Sol in quadriga

Imperial Period
3rd–4th century A.D.


Length: 19 mm (3/4 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique


Not On View


Jewelry, The Ancient World



Brownish orange carnelian with several dark, splotchy discolorations. Intaglio. Flat front and back surfaces. Sol rides in a quadriga, depicted frontally. The quadriga itself is not visible because of the anterior position of the horses which lead it. The god turns his radiate head to the left and his chlamys flies over his right shoulder. Both of his arms are outstretched upwards, and he holds an object in his right hand. Given its attenuated shape and Sol’s iconography, the artist was most likely denoting a torch, for in frontal depictions of Sol in a quadriga, the attributes he holds are orbs and torches. The four horses are splayed, depicted in a moment of action. They rear on their hind legs and extending forward their bent front legs. The two innermost horses turn their heads in towards the center of the gem while the two outermost horses face outwards. Their spindly limbs appear almost fragile in contrast to their more solid bodies. A few faint scratches give the slightest indication of the horses’ manes, and there are no indications of most facial features or musculature present. The carving is rather crude: Sol’s body is rendered as an inverted triangle, his face a small gouge mark with the barely-perceptible suggestion of a nose. Several uneven lines form a ground line on which the horses rear. There are numerous small chips around the perimeter of the back surface of the gem.


By date unknown: with Euripides Sepheriades; purchased by MFA from Euripides Sepheriades, October 17, 1963

Credit Line

Theodora Wilbour Fund in memory of Zoë Wilbour