Diameter: 2.400 cm
Length: 2.100 cm (bezel)
Weight: 7.900 g
GR 1872.6-4.146 (Rings 218)
Room 73: Greeks in Italy
Gold box-bezel ring
Greek, about 350-330 BC
From Taranto, Italy
A ring that probably belonged to a priestess of Hera
This lightweight but elaborate ring is made of sheet gold and gold wire. The hoop is made of a tube of sheet gold overlaid with aligned twisted wire ropes. The scene, in low relief on an oval bezel, is surrounded by a variety of decorative wires and shows the figure of a seated woman wearing a chiton (tunic) and a cloak. Her right hand is down by her side, perhaps holding an object; her left hand is forward and slightly raised, holding a sceptre surmounted by a fruit enclosed within leaves.
The ring is said to have been found in a tomb in Taranto with a necklace and a sceptre of the same form as that shown held by the woman on the ring. As the Greek city of Taras (modern Taranto) did not have a royal family in the fourth century BC, it is likely that the sceptre was a symbol of religious authority. The necklace has pendants in the form of the head of Io, a mythological priestess of Hera shown with a bull's horns and ears. It is possible that this group of jewellery once belonged to a priestess of Hera. All the objects were probably made in Taranto in about 350-330 BC and are now on display in the British Museum.
D. Williams and J. Ogden, Greek gold: jewellery of the c (London, The British Museum Press, 1994)