Designed as an oval-shaped banded white and pale brown agate, carved to depict the stylised head of Medusa, extending into the white agate surround, 1st-2nd Century AD, within a yellow gold pendant mount.
Note: The carving is so deep that this intaglio is almost more of a reverse cameo than what we usually describe when we use the term intaglio. The depiction of Medusa here is very much as a gorgon rather than any stylised female interpretation, with the serpents of her hair extending out of the depths of her face into the white agate surround. She is the monster of the Greek myth carved onto the temple columns of the Temple of Artemis in Corfu, and the image worn on Roman shields, armour and amulets (like this one) – to protect the wearer from evil. Perseus’ trophy and weapon, the fearsome creature whose very face turns men to stone, but whose power can be harnessed to protect and save.
James Tassie and R.E.Raspe, 'A descriptive catalogue of a general collection of ancient and modern engraved gems, cameos as well as intaglios, taken from the most celebrated cabinets in Europe', Vol I, London 1791, Plate n.8909 description in text on p.523