Oval gem with portrait of Hellenistic prince, perhaps a Seleucid

Greek or Modern
Hellenistic Period or Modern
2nd century B.C. or modern


Length: 14 x 12.4 mm (9/16 x 1/2 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique


Not On View


Jewelry, The Ancient World



Burnt carnelian. Intaglio. Flat front and back surfaces with inward back bezel. The bust of a Hellenistic prince faces left in profile. He wears a radiate diadem over a thick head of hair, which falls into curls at the nape of his neck. The rays appear solid and are attached to the diadem, a typical manner of representation during the Hellenistic period. The subject of the portrait is youthful, with smooth skin and no beard. His nose is straight, and his facial features are detailed: his pupil and nostril are discernible. A cloak is visible pinned around his shoulders. It is possible that the figure on this gem is a prince of the Seleucid dynasty given the characteristics of their portraiture and images on coins. The burning treatment of the gem has given almost all of its surfaces a white color, but most of the area of carving itself maintains the original orange color of the carnelian, and must not have been exposed to the treatment.


Said to be from Homs, Syria 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