NMS-8B3A40: Roman figurine

Rights Holder: Beazley Archive, Oxford University
CC License:

Rights Holder: Beazley Archive, Oxford University
CC License:

Rights Holder: Beazley Archive, Oxford University
CC License:

Rights Holder: Beazley Archive, Oxford University
CC License:

Rights Holder: Beazley Archive, Oxford University
CC License:

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Unique ID: NMS-8B3A40

Object type certainty: Certain
Workflow status: Published Find published

Material: Garnet

Height: 20mm, width: 17mm, weight: 14.5g

Condition: Fracture on the dome of the head with several cracks and small chips. Chipped at the neck on the right. The short neck is polished with a shallow line engraved at the front. This was probably already cut down from a longer neck in Antiquity when it was most likely inserted into a bust made of another precious material.

Description: A miniature head of Socrates. He is shown bearded, with a bald pate and with long hair at the back. He has a round face with characteristically prominent cheekbones and brow, and with a short stubby nose. These features appear already in the earliest depictions of Socrates (type A and type B) in the 4th century BC (see P. Zanker, Die Maske des Sokrates. Das Bild des In­tellektuellen in der antiken Kunst (Munich 1995); I. Scheibler, Rezeptionsphasen des jüngeren Sokrate­sporträts in der Kaiserzeit', JdI 119 (2004) 179-258; I. Scheibler, Zum ältesten Bildnis des Sokrates', MüJb 40 (1989) 7-33).

This version of Socrates, however, is more loosely based on the two types - composite characteristics are the commonest form of the depiction in Roman times (see also J. Lang, Mit Wissen geschmückt? Überlegungen zur bildlichen Rezeption griechischer Dichter und Denker in der römischen Lebenswelt am Beispiel kleinformatiger Bildwerke (Cologne, forthcoming 2012) chapter 2.2.2). The shape of the head is rounder, three lines are incised on the forehead. The ears are not covered by the long sinuous hair at the back. The carefully engraved curly beard comes to a point under the chin and on both sides of the face and the ends of the beard hair curl into little loops. The sideburns are short with only a small wave and the upper lip is obscured under the short, almost straight moustache. The lower lip is turned slightly down at the ends and shows the mouth slightly open. The upper lids are arched high and the irises are drilled at the top of the eye.

Portraits of philosophers were a popular subject on engraved gems (intaglios and cameos) made from precious and semi-precious stones (see also C. Wagner and J. Boardman A Collection of Classical and Eastern Intaglios, Rings and Cameos (Oxford, 2003) 96).

Date: 1st century BC -1st century AD.

Subsequent actions

Subsequent action after recording: Undergoing further examination at a museum


Broad period: ROMAN
Period from: ROMAN
Period to: ROMAN
Date from: Circa 100 BC
Date to: Circa AD 100

Dimensions and weight

Quantity: 1
Height: 20 mm
Width: 17 mm
Weight: 14.5 g

Discovery dates

Date(s) of discovery: Thursday 1st January 1970 - Wednesday 30th December 1970

Personal details

Recorded by: Mrs Erica Darch
Identified by: Dr Claudia Wagner

Other reference numbers

SMR reference number: 57873

Materials and construction

Primary material: Gem
Completeness: Incomplete

Spatial metadata

Region: Eastern (European Region)
County or Unitary authority: Cambridgeshire (County)
District: Huntingdonshire (District)
To be known as: Brampton

References cited

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Timeline of associated dates

Audit data

Recording Institution: NMS
Created: 7 years ago
Updated: 6 years ago

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