Round scaraboid gem with Achilles spearing Penthesileia

Late Archaic Period
Early 5th century B.C.

Catalogue Raisonné

Lewes House Gems, no. 031 (1920; 2002, additional published references).


Length: 16 mm (5/8 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique


On View

Anne and Blake Ireland Gallery (Gallery 210A)


Jewelry, The Ancient World


Scarabs and scaraboids

Intaglio. Pierced (horizontally). Motif oriented vertically. Achilles, at the right, steps forward with his left leg onto Penthesileia’s right ankle, and pierces her with a spear he holds in his right hand; he holds a round shield in his left hand. He wears a crested helmet and a cloak fastened around his neck. His hair and sideburns, visible beneath his helmet, are indicated by a series of pellets. He has an “archaic smile.” Behind him, in the field, a star. Penthesileia, at the left, falls to the ground, while holding a bow in her right hand and a spear in her left. She wears a short dress with many folds, belted around the waist; a pointy cap, a necklace, and round drop earring. Her hairline is also rendered by a series of pellets. Ground line of pellets between two lines. Hatched border. Stone has been pared on all sides; much of the border is lost, and Penthesileia is very close to edge of the field.


By 1917: with Edward Perry Warren (according to J. D. Beazley, The Lewes House Collection of Ancient Gems, no. 31: from Cyprus; bought from Mrs. W. T. Ready in 1917); April 5, 1926: loaned to MFA by Edward Perry Warren (as 89.26); November 17, 1927: purchased by MFA from Edward Perry Warren for $ 161,000.00 (this figure is the total price for MFA 27.647-27.761)

Credit Line

Francis Bartlett Donation of 1912