A unique gemstone found in Israel that may have adorned a ring has shed light on a little known art in ancient Rome: fine carving.
On the floor of a room dating to the early Byzantium period, around 4th century CE, archaeologists spotted a red gemstone beautifully engraved with the figure of a naked running man holding a laurel wreath in one hand.
Or maybe he's holding a wreath of olive branches. It's hard to tell. In any case, in the other hand the bare gentleman holds what is clearly a date palm branch.
Based on his research, the engraving on the stone is unique in the annals of Israeli excavation, says Dr. Michael Eisenberg of Haifa University's Zinman Institute of Archaeology, director of the Shikmona Excavation Project.
Modern forensics in search of answers
Human remains at Tel Shikmona and the nearby town date from the Late Bronze to the Late Byzantine period, but the gemstone appears to date from the Roman era, indicating that it may have been handed down over generations.
Monday, August 04, 2014
ARTIFACT: 'Naked runner' sheds light on a little-known art of ancient Rome. The carved jasper stone, found in Israel, was apparently commissioned by a wealthy man and passed down for generations ( Ran Shapira, Haaretz).