Oval gem with head of balding man

Roman or post-antique
Roman or post-antique
about A.D. 100 or later


Length: 13.72 x 11.68 mm (9/16 x 7/16 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique


Not On View


Jewelry, The Ancient World



Red carnelian. Intaglio. Convex front surface and slightly concave back surface with raised protrusion and with uneven inward front and back bezels. The head of a man faces left in profile. His hairline has vastly receded and the top of his head is completely bald. What hair remains is rendered in short, uniform, slightly curled locks. His face is sensitively carved, with a slightly bulging forehead, deep-set, expressive eye, indications of crow’s feet, and a three-dimensional quality to the cheek’s surface. It has been suggested that the figure on the gem is a portrait of Julius Caesar made during Trajan’s reign. It is not definitive, as there are some inconsistencies with known representations of Caesar.

There is a very faintly-carved retrograde Greek inscription carved below the head, which seems to read LULOS and may be the owner or artist’s signature.


One of a group of gems purchased in Greece or Asia Minor in 1963 by Cornelius C. Vermeule III on behalf of MFA with funds approved in advance by the Trustees; accessioned March 11, 1964

Credit Line

Theodora Wilbour Fund in memory of Zoë Wilbour