Oval gem with idealized head of youth or god

Late Republican—early Imperial Period
2nd half of 1st century B.C.—1st half of 1st century A.D.


Length: 14.1 x 12.8 mm (9/16 x 1/2 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique


Not On View


Jewelry, The Ancient World



Glassy orange carnelian. Intaglio. Very slightly convex front surface and flat back surface with inward back bezel. The head of a youth in profile to the left. His hair is styled in short, curled locks which fall to the middle of his brow and around his ear. His features are precisely articulated and the carving is deep and detailed. The overall effect is Classicizing, recalling the style of Classical Greek sculptors such as Polykleitos and Praxiteles of the 5th and 4th centuries B.C. It is possible that the idealized youth is a divinity, but without any identifying attributes, a secure identification is not viable. There is a large chip on the front of the gem which damaged the crown of the figure’s head and a small chip at the back of the figure’s head which appears to be on the same line of breakage.


Said to be from Athens on MFA archival card; by date unknown: Burton Y. Berry Collection; gift to MFA from Burton Y. Berry in Memory of Michel Chiha of Beirut, October 15, 1969

Credit Line

Gift of Burton Y. Berry in memory of Michel Chiha of Beirut