Lion ring

early 5th century BCE
more object details

General Description

In addition their ornamental quality, most rings in antiquity were used for the practical purpose of making impressions upon yielding material. The Etruscan rings in the Dallas Museum of Art's collection illustrate how these two uses coincided; they are signet rings as well as decorative ornaments. The exquisite gold rings of the collection have been considered purely Greek because rings of this type are frequently inlaid with engraved gemstones of Greek iconography and workmanship. However, the typological and stylistic similarities of the lions' manes to those on earrings that are clearly Etruscan (1991.75.27.a-b, 1991.75.28.a-b), leave no doubt about the Etruscan origin of the rings. The now empty bezel of this ring appears to have held a semiprecious stone with an engraved device.

This late Archaic ring, like two others in the DMA's collection (1991.75.26, 1991.75.25), is hollow and was probably cast. The double-lion protome is differently modeled and has engraved details. The nearly rectangular box setting, held by the lions' heads and forepaws, is empty. Bosses that are punched from the inside and surrounded by beaded wires decorate the long edges. Circular holes can be seen on the sides.

Adapted from

Barbara Deppert-Lippitz, Ancient Gold Jewelry at the Dallas Museum of Art (Dallas: Dallas Museum of Art in association with the University of Washington Press, 1996), 38; 130.

Fun Facts

  • Jewelry was far more than merely ornament to the Etruscans; it was often close to being a magic charm or amulet and implied the protection of the gods.