Ancient Glass Glyptics in South-Eastern Europe (4th-2th cc. BC)

Ostroverkhov A. S.

The paper presents a survey of glass glyptics which was current in Eastern Europe in 4th-2nd cc. BC. These artifacts include gems and finger-rings. Gems were of intaglio (scarabeoid) and cameo types. First cameos are dated back to the 4th c. BC. The earliest of the rings were bejewelled with scarabeoid gems. In the 4th c. BC there appear gems made of «schistose» glass. Glass rings were known since late classical period. From the late 4th and early 3rd c. BC these two types of rings began to merge. From that time on gems were inserted into the bezels. Objects in «Eastern Greek» style are predominant among the replies, though «Greco-Persian» specimen are also to be found here. The figures can be divided into three groups: 1) real and mythical animals; 2) human faces and figures; 3) mythical and allegoric compositions. Gems and rings made of «schistose» glass have upon them figures of dancing women (maenads) and hippocamp. Ancient Greeks used gems and rings as amulets, adornments or seals. Barbarian population of the region in question used glyptic objects only for the first and the second purpose. Scara-beoids' original function was in any case apotropaic, which is proved by their shape imitating that of scarab, and by the colour of the glass imitating rock crystal, lapis lazuli, sapphire, turquoise or aquamarine. Glass itself was also thought in antiquity to have sacral properties. The style of the images on glass gems and rings, as well as the chemical composition of the glass, makes it possible to suppose that the objects must have been manufactured in the Greco-Anatolian area: Ionia, Phoenicia, insular Greece, Attica or even Carthage. Some of the scara-beoids might have been made of imported half-finished product in large North Pontic cities.