Medieval Rings

les Enluminures


Object of the Month

This elegant Byzantine ring preserves an intaglio portraying the goddess Diana. In Roman mythology, Diana is known as the goddess of hunting, shown with wild animals and in the forest. She represents fertility and is a protector of women during childbirth. Known also as the guardian of the lower classes, Diana was especially revered among slaves. We identify this image  as  Diana by the quiver of arrows draped over her shoulder on the intaglio. Her youthful gaze is captured in this carnelian gem carved by a Roman craftsman in the 2nd century. It is likely that this intaglio was placed into the present ring during the 5th century within the territory of the Byzantine Empire. We presume that the original owner would have worn this ring for her admiration of Diana and called upon her protective and healing powers. Although Christianity was the official religion of both the Eastern and Western Empires, the pagan cult of Diana attracted many followers and rivaled the early Christian Church.

  • Exhibition-Image