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Roman Intaglios in the NY TIMES

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Down the drain is where British archaeologists recently discovered 36 artfully engraved semiprecious stones, in an ancient bathhouse at the site of a Roman fort near Hadrian’s Wall in Carlisle, England. The colorful intaglios — gems with incised carvings — likely fell out of signet rings worn by wealthy third-century bathers, and ended up trapped in the stone drains.…”

Ancient Romans Dropped Their Bling Down the Drain, Too - The New York Times https://www.nytimes.com/2023/05/01/science/ancient-romans-coin-drains.html




Edited by Gavin Richardson
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11 minutes ago, Gavin Richardson said:

Is it reasonable to assume that die engravers and intaglio engravers were sometimes one and the same? Did they ply the same craft or have the same training? Any idle speculation on educated opinions on a Tuesday morning?

Well, it was notably true of Benedetto Pistrucci, so why not in the ancient world as well?

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This is an educated opinion, but (or rather THEREFORE!) not mine. It came in a postscript to a work on the Syracusean dekadrachm engravers of the very late 5th century BC by Jongkees -


Jongkees, J. H. The Kimonian Dekadrachms. (Utrecht, 1941).

"Most of the die-engravers working in these years are ephemeral figures in the domain of monetary art; their normal occupation was not die-engraving. To the question from what quarters these artists can have come various replies may be given. If we lay stress on the engraving we shall think of the engravers of gems in the first place; if greater value is attached to metal-working then toreutai (who worked delicately in precious stones, ivory, gold, silver and bronze) are preferred; and finally they may have been sculptors and similar artists for reasons of a more general nature.  In favour of the view that gem-engravers were employed to assist the die-engravers there is the fact that their method of work is nearly the same. Besides it was usually pointed out that there is a gem bearing the name of Phrygillos (a famous signer of coins -ed)  ; it is true the letters of the name slant backwards, but we cannot know whether the engraver or the owner is indicated; the date is uncertain. A gem ascribed by Evans to Euainetos is not signed. The only gem left is the one with the signature of Olympios, who was identified with the engraver OAYM of Arcadia; the identification is exclusively based on the names, style and time have been ignored. Although a close connection between gem- and die-engravers is quite possible, there is no proof positive of this. 

The meritorious engraver θHPI of Pheneos in Arcadia has been identified with Therikles, who is mentioned by Athenaeus as a famous potter; this is only based on a partial agreement of the names. On the other hand it seems probable that the Olympic engravers ΔA and ΠΟ may be identified with the sculptors ( of bronze images mostly) Daidalos and Polykleitos the Younger. But these, too, remain isolated cases. Finally the question may be put what was the relation between the work of the die-engraver and that of the toreutai. About this question there is more to be said. lt has been mentioned in passing that Daidalos and Polykleitos, who probably were also coin-engravers, were especially makers of bronze images, so that they were conversant with metal-working, and that the same meta! of which dies were made!! Further we pointed out that in the atelier of Kimon and IM not only dies were engraved, but the coins were also struck there; here, too, metal-working ( in this instance silver) is combined with die-engraving. According to Kluge the engraving of dies is entirely within the scope of bronze-working."

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