Oval gem with Bacchic procession

Early Imperial or Imperial Period
mid 1st century B.C.–mid 1st century A.D.


Overall (ring): 2.2 x 1.9 x 1.7 cm (7/8 x 3/4 x 11/16 in.) Overall (gem): 1.6 x 1.3 cm (5/8 x 1/2 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique


Not On View


Jewelry, The Ancient World



Bands of agate in roughly concentric circles. Intaglio. Oval gem set into a modern ring mount. Seven figures participate in a Bacchic procession. It is not clear whether they are human or satyrs and maenads. From left to right: (1) a nude male figure wearing a cloak plays the double-flute. Next is (2) a male figure whose head, neck, and left shoulder are visible; his left hand rests on the shoulder of the man in front and a Bacchic staff (thyrsus) rises in front of him. Beside him is (3) a (female?) figure wearing a long tunic. Behind this figure only the (4) head of the next is visible, with what might be another thyrsus, and the (5) head, neck, and left shoulder of a figure that may be female. The last figure in the procession is (6) a bearded man dressed in a mantle (himation) that covers his left shoulder and legs; his right arm is raised and he holds a wreath over the heads of the figures in front of him. In the foreground, (7) a nude man rides astride a donkey. He leans back on his left elbow and holds up a lyre in his right hand; there is a rope around the donkey’s neck and his head is lowered. All the figures stand on a ground line.


By date unknown: Mr. and Mrs. William de Forest Thomson Collection; gift of Mr. and Mrs. William de Thomson to MFA, September 12. 1918

Credit Line

Gift of Mr. and Mrs. William de Forest Thomson