C. 100-200 AD. Roman Imperial period. A beautiful gold ring with a D-shaped hoop and flattened, elliptical bezel with a red carnelian intaglio setting. The intaglio depicts the Romano-Egyptian deity Serapis. Separis is shown in profile, sporting a full bearded and elaborate coiffured hairstyle. Atop his head rests a modius, a type of flat-topped cylindrical hat, which is named for its resemblance of the vessels used for measuring grain, and which is usually used to identify Serapis in ancient art. Serapis was an ancient god promoted in the 3rd century BC by the Greek Pharaoh Ptolemy I Soter, for whom this god was a means to promote unity in a mixed kingdom of Greeks and Egyptians, following the conquests of Alexander the Great. Serapis is usually depicted in ancient art according to the Graeco-Roman tradition, rather than as an Egyptian deity, but he was actually an amalgamation of two major Egyptian gods, Osiris and Apis, in combination with the Greek god of the underworld, Hades and the harvest, Demeter. By combining the divine attributes of all of these gods together into one new deity, Serapis became the chief deity of Hellenistic and Roman Egypt, with his chief temple ( the Serapeum) at Alexandria. Moreover, thanks to the peace, stability and connectivity provided by the Roman empire, this god would later be worshiped across the whole Mediterranean and beyond world. The cult of Serapis only came to an end in the later 4th century: a Christian mob stormed the Serapeum and burned it to the ground in 389 AD, and pagan religion was outlawed by emperor Theodosius I in 391 AD. This beautiful item may have belonged to a wealthy Roman priest, perhaps a senator, living anywhere in the empire.
Excellent condition; wearable.
Size: UK: R 1/2 US: 8 7/8
Provenance: Obtained from a London gallery, previously in an old British collection formed in the 1980s.