Oval gem with Theseus pushing the rock to retrieve his father's sword and sandals

Republican Period
about 100 B.C.


Length x width: 16 x 14 mm (5/8 x 9/16 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique


Not On View


Jewelry, The Ancient World



Three-layered sardonyx with a thin pale brown upper layer, thin gray middle layer, and thick dark brown bottom layer. Intaglio. Flat front and back surfaces with deep inward front bezel and very slight inward back bezel. The hero Theseus stands facing right on a ground line. He wears a crested helmet and a billowing cloak but is otherwise nude. The drapery of the cloak is very finely rendered in a series of voluminous folds. He holds something, perhaps a pair of sandals, in his right hand and pushes at a tall, craggy mass of rock with his left hand. The back surface of the gem appears deliberately scraped along the perimeter.


By 1961: Dr. L. Lahut Uzman Collection (according to his records: Bought - Bob Hecht - in Boston, Nov. '61); 1962: inherited by Mrs. L. Lahut Uzman; December 12, 1962: one of the group of 20 gems (62.1145–62.1164) purchased by MFA from Mrs. L. Lahut Uzman for a total price of $ 2,200-

Credit Line

Theodora Wilbour Fund in memory of Zoë Wilbour