258 NATURAL HISTORY OF GEMS.
from the fact to be stated presently, known to the ancients, it was not
reckoned a variety of the Ophites, but, as it would seem, olassed
amongst the Agates. Its sanguine hue would have caused it to fall under
the denomination of the Hœniachates. This with the Green and
the Black can justly claim the precedence in antiquity over all the
other materials of the Glyptic art. They were almost exclusively
employed for the cylinder signets belonging to the first period of
Assyrian art, that is prior to the reign of Sargon (Shalmanesar), and
the designs cut upon them are identical in character with the earliest
bas-reliefs discovered at Nineveh. The Black is of a particularly fine
and uniform texture, so that it commonly passes, in these remains, for
actual black Jasper.