Mythical creatures of Greece and Rome, £8.99
Width: 2.800 cm (hoop)
Diameter: 1.300 cm (box)
Height: 0.600 cm (box)
Weight: 9.800 g
Bequeathed by James Woodhouse
GR 1866.5-4.57 (Rings 41)
Gold ring with movable circular box-bezel decorated with a griffin
Greek, around 500 BC
Probably from Corfu
Inscribed DAMO[U]: '[of] the people'
Although cities such as Athens were rich in the fifth century BC, Greek gold jewellery of this period is rare: perhaps surplus gold was scarce in the private sector or sumptuary laws restricted the offering of gold jewellery in the tomb. Whatever the reason, because so little gold jewellery of the period survives, rings such as this are particularly important.
This ring was made in about 500 BC and is the earliest known example of a box-bezel ring, though this form of ring was to become popular in the fourth century BC. The drum-like circular box-bezel is free to rotate on the gold rod hoop. On one side is a plain wire rosette, on the other a chased depiction of a griffin, skilfully rendered to fit the circular form precisely. Across the griffin is the inscription DAMO, written in reverse. This is probably a shortened form of DAMOU, Doric Greek for 'of the people'. Both the direction of the script and the inscription suggest that the ring was an official seal. The ring is large, and was probably designed to be worn by a man.
D. Williams and J. Ogden, Greek gold: jewellery of the c (London, The British Museum Press, 1994)