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16th Century Intaglio of Cleopatra

  • This item has been sold
  • Date: 16 th. century
  • Size: Size of intaglio 25 x 20 mm Ring size "Q"
16th Century Intaglio of Cleopatra


Large 16 th. century bloodstone intaglio depicting Cleopatra with the snake in a high carat gold ring. Cleopatra VII Philopator January 69 BC – 30 BC) was a Hellenistic ruler of Egypt, originally sharing power with her father Ptolemy XII and later with her brothers/husbands Ptolemy XIII and Ptolemy XIV; eventually gaining sole rule of Egypt. As Pharaoh, she consummated a liaison with Gaius Julius Caesar that solidified her grip on the throne. After Caesar’s assassination, she aligned with Mark Antony, with him she produced a set of twins and a son. Cleopatra had four children in all, firstly, a born son by Caesar (Ptolemy Caesar nicknamed Caesarion), and three by Mark Antony (the twins, Cleopatra Selene II and Alexander Helios, and a son Ptolemy Philadelphus). Her successive unions with her brothers produced no children. Her reign marks the end of the Hellenistic Era and the beginning of the Roman Era in the eastern Mediterranean. She was the last Pharaoh of Ancient Egypt. Her son by Julius Caesar, Caesarion, co-ruled in name with his mother only a very few years before Octavian, later on renamed Caesar Augustus, had him executed, most probably by strangulation, which in Antiquity was the execution method reserved for infants and pre-pubescents, thus adding humiliation to his execution.
Though she bore the ancient Egyptian title Pharaoh, her main language was Greek; for several centuries preceding her rule, Egyptian kings had been of Macedonian (i.e. Hellenistic) origin rather than Egyptian origin. The establishment of a Greek-speaking aristocracy in Egypt had come with Alexander the Great nearly 300 years before. Cleopatra is reputed to have been the first member of her family in their 300-year reign in Egypt to have learned the Egyptian language. Cleopatra adopted common Egyptian beliefs and deities. Her patron goddess was Isis, and thus during her reign it was believed that she was the re-incarnation and embodiment of the goddess of wisdom.

After Antony and Cleopatra were defeated at Actium by their rival and Caesar’s legal heir, Gaius Julius Caesar Octavian (who later became the first Roman Emperor, Augustus), Cleopatra committed suicide, the traditional date being 12 August 30 BC,[1] allegedly by means of an asp bite. To this day she remains popular in Western culture.

Bloodstone, green jasper dotted with bright red spots of iron oxide, was treasured in ancient times and served for a long time as the birthstone for March. This attractive chalcedony quartz is also known as heliotrope because in ancient times polished stones were described as reflecting the sun: perhaps the appearance of the gem reminded the ancients of the red setting sun, mirrored in the ocean.

Even today, finely pulverised bloodstone is used as a medicine and aphrodisiac in India. Perhaps that explains why it is now rather difficult to find fine specimens of bloodstone on the market.

Size of intaglio 25 x 20 mm
Ring size “Q”
Weight of ring 17.3 gr.
Ref INT0512

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Listing ID: 314f60c76e50448

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