The red carnelian bead intricately engraved to one side with a Quadriga behind which a rider wearing a feathered Corinthian helmet is poised to race, circa 3rd Century BC.
Note: The Quadriga (a chariot built for speed drawn by four horses) is an enduring symbol of victory and triumph, and examples can still be seen adorning the gateways or monuments of capital cities dedicated to military victories around Europe, including; the wellington arch in London, L'Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel in Paris, and the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin. These existing examples are largely based around the famous bronze horses of the Basilica San Marco in Venice. Indeed the image was a popular one in antiquity, many Greek ceramics (particularly those in Black-figure style) and intaglios were decorated with similar scenes. It is understandable as the Quadriga was not only used in triumphant processions in the real world but also by the gods of ancient mythology. Apollo is often depicted at the helm of one, perhaps most famously now associated with the large bronze sample crowning the front of the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow. The scene is of course also one that lends itself perfectly for a virtuoso gem carver to display his skill. The intricacy necessary to capture the movement and nervous anticipation of the horses, as can be seen in this example, is a true feat and makes this intaglio particularly impressive.