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Home > Auctions > 5th December 2023 > Byzantine Gemstone with the Personification of Constantinople

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LOT 0223

GBP (£) 10,000 - 14,000
EUR (€) 11,560 - 16,180
USD ($) 12,700 - 17,770

Opening Bid
£5,000 (EUR 5,779; USD 6,348) (+bp*)

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Bids: 0
2 3/8 in. (2.86 grams, 59 mm).

Carnelian cabochon in gold cell with ropework border, ribbed loop and chain sections; intaglio figure of Constantinople standing wearing full panoply of armour with crested helmet, holding an oval shield, a spear and supporting a globus cruciger; supplied with an impression of the seal and housed in a custom-made display case.

Acquired in the late 1980s-early 1990s.
Important North West London collection.

Accompanied by an academic report by Dr Raffaele D'Amato.
This lot has been checked against the Interpol Database of stolen works of art and is accompanied by a search certificate number no.11933-210475.

Cf. similar specimens in Spier, J.B., Late Antique and Early Christian Gems, Wiesbaden, 2007, pl.69, nos.561-562; for similar iconography see Zalesskaya, V.N., Early Byzantine Glyptic Art in the Hermitage Collection, Saint Petersburg, 2001, pp.175-176, fig.13; Demandt, A., Engemann, J., Imperator Caesar Flavius Constantinus - Konstantin der Grosse, Mainz, 2007, p.172, on various iconographies of personification of Constantinople.

The oval gem shows the personification of the new capital of the Roman Empire: Νέα Ρώμη, Constantinople, founded by Constantine the Great on the shores of the Bosphorus, on the site of the ancient Greek Megarese colony of Byzantium, on 11 May 330 A.D. The city was the new centre of the Roman Empire for the next 1123 years.