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14 in number. At the point of each alternate diamond formed by the small chains are suspended scarabei of onyx and amber mounted in a border of fine wire-work; the other points having full-faced harpies, the wings curving gracefully above the shoulders.
This unique specimen of ancient jewellery was sold for ltiO&, by Sotheby and Wilkinson in 1850. At the same sale, the finest Etruscan ring known, once belonging to the Prince di Canino, and engraved in Micali's * Atlas of Plates,' was also disposed of for the small sum of 211. Subjoined is the accurate description of it given in the catalogue. "It is formed on each side of a lion, their heads facing, and the front paws of each supporting a border of fine grain-work, iu which is set a scarabeus of Sardonyx, engraved with a lion, his head turned back to the left" But the usual mode of mounting the scarab, as a finger-ring, was the swivel, a wire, as a pivot, passing through the longitudinal perforation of the stone (the edge of which was generally protected by a gold rim), and then brought through holes in each end of a bar of gold; or else of a broad flat band of plaited wire, and bent into a loop of sufficient size to admit the finger, wfhich was usually the fore-finger of the left hand. For the sake of security, the ends of the loop were formed into small disks, touching each extremity of the scarabeus. This loop, or ring-shank, as it may be considered, was treated in a great variety of fashions, and sometimes was made extremely ornamental. One that I have seen terminated in ram's heads, the pivot entering the mouth of each; in another, the shank was formed as a serpent, the head of which was one of the supporting points, and the tail, tied into a knot, the other. Occasionally, the form of the shank was varied by bending the bar upon itself, so as to form a bow in the middle of its length; the ends were then beaten to a point, which. being twisted inwards, passed into the opposite holes of the stone, and thus formed a handle to the signet. This last manner of mounting the scarabeus was often used by the Egyptians, the shank being made of every kind of metal: it was also the common setting of the Phasnician stones of this form. These last are found abundantly in Sardinia. An extensive collection of them, from the cemeteries of Tharros, a Phoenician colony, was brought to London, by the Commandante Barbetti, in 1857, and afterwards sold at Christie and Manson's. These differed from the other classes of beetle-stones, both in the material—the greatest part of them being made of a dark-green Jasper, instead of Carnelian—and also in the style of the intagli engraved upon them; which closely resembled, in their treatment, the engravings on the best executed Persian cylinders, and were, in many cases, very neatly finished, certainly superior to the majority of the Etruscan class. The cutting of the figures was deep and carefully finished, although rather stiff, which latter character seems to be inseparable from all the productions of Oriental art; but some of the animals engraved upon them, especially the antelopes, displayed an extraordinary degree of spirit and freedom of execution.
Beetles, in coloured marble, and of considerable bulk, may be assigned (as their Roman style points out) to the revival of the Egyptian religion in the days of Hadrian. Early scarabs of that nation also occur with Gnostic devices engraved upon their bases, but the disparity of work in the beetles, and in the intagli upon them, proves the latter to have been an addition of the times of incipient barbarism. We may conclude this subject, by noticing a very rare peculiarity of some early Etruscan scarabei, where the back of the beetle is formed into a full front mask, apparently of the same date as the rest of the composition. Of this unaccountable variation only two instances have come to iny knowledge.9
A curious kind of natural signet was used by the Athenians of the time of Aristophanes, the invention of which be jocosely ascribes to the subtle genius of the misogynist Euripides. As it was found that the wives were able to get themselves a fac-simile of their husband's signet for half a drachma, and thus to open, without fear of detection, all the stores sealed up by their lords, Euripides had taught the latter to seal the wax or clay securing the doors with bits of -wormeaten wood, 6pmr)&«rTa afypayihia, (Thesmoph. 425). The curious windings and intricate curves traced on the surface of the wood by the "fairies' coach-maker," were quite beyond all imitation, and thus supplied a signet that could not be counterfeited. Caylus gives an intaglio, the design a mere pattern of wavy lines curiously entwined, which he takes, and probably with reason, for an imitation of one of these natural
81 have lately seen two additional and very extraordinary examples of this ornament to the scarabeus. The first was a large one in black and white Agate, the beetle itself formed with astonishing truth to nature, and the cameo-mask cut out of the white stratum of the stone upon the lower part of the wing-cases of the insect. I extract the description of it from the M.-S. catalogue :—" No. 171. Scarabeus. Jupiter, nude, darting the thunderbolt with the left hand; in the field a bust of lthea with a crown of towers. The back of the scarab has been cut in relief,
and forms a bare head, of which the chin and beard consist of the lower body and of the wings of an insect. The figure of Jupiter has a foreign character, somewhat in the Phoenician style. Onyx." The second, and I believe an unique example, is an Egyptian scarab of vitrified clay, the base filled with well-formed hieroglyphics, and the back adorned with a large full-faced mask. It is very possible that these cameo-heads are the additions to the original stone, of a later but still antique period.
ASSYRIAN AND PERSIAN CYLINDERS.
These are composed of different species of hard stone, Jasper, and Calcedony for the greatest part, but also of Carnelian, Agate, Loadstone, and Lapis-lazuli. They are of a cylindrical form,10 usually from one to two inches in length, and half as much in thickness, with a large hole passing through their length, for a string, and in this manner were worn tied round the wrist as a bracelet. This custom accounts for their hardly ever being found, with metal mountings, among Assyrian remains; the few that do occur, set in massy gold swivel-rings, prove, by the hieroglyphical engravings they bear, that they wore used by Egyptians during the time that country was subject to the Persian rule. The subjects they usually present are sacrifices or combats between a man and a monstrous beast, probably typifying the contest of the Good and Evil Principles, the fundamental doctrine of the Persian religion. The following are types of frequent occurrence upon these cylinders.1 Two figures, half-bull half-man, fighting with two lions: between each group are cuneiform inscriptions, arranged in vertical lines. Four human figures: beneath the second of them is a plant, between the third and fourth an animal, under which are placed three balls. A figure, in a long robe, holding at arm's length, by their horns, two antelopes.2 Four
10 Some are barrel-shaped, others Collection, have the sides slightly concave. * This is a very common type on
1 All in the Mertens-Schaafhausen lx>th seals and cylinders.