Scarab with the centaur Nessos

Italic, Etruscan
Classical Period
4th century B.C.


Length: 13 mm (1/2 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique


Not On View


Jewelry, The Ancient World


Scarabs and scaraboids

Dark, orange-red carnelian with dark inclusions. Scarab with a flat, oblong intaglio base; pierced lengthwise. The centaur Nessos in ¾ view and head looking back walking to right. He holds a club over his left shoulder and carries a cloak over his right arm. Cable border. Back carved as a beetle with two lines dividing the thorax and elytra. Two lines between the elytra. Winglets indicated with three and four diagonal lines. Plastic, hatched legs. Thin, offset plinth.


By 1839, Francesco Capranesi (b.1796 - d.1854), Rome.[1] By date unknown, Richard Norton; August 11, 1908, loaned to MFA by Richard Norton (as 423.08); returned December 12, 1929; December 3, 1931, purchased by MFA for $ 160.00.

[1] The 1839 Bullettino dell’Istituto di corrispondenza archeologica features in its catalog of gem impressions made by Tomasso Cades the description of a gem resembling the MFA scarab (p. 101, no 25) and lists it as being in the Capranesi collection. No illustration is included in the Bullettino, but an impression corresponding to the MFA scarab is indeed found among the Cades plaster casts kept at the Deutsches Archäologisches Institut in Rome. According to the Bulletino, the gem was discovered in 1835 or shortly thereafter.

Credit Line

Helen and Alice Colburn Fund