Intaglio with depiction of a griffin

Afghanistan, Tillya-Tepe, grave V. 4th century BC. Chalcedony. National Museum of Afghanistan. 3.1 x 2.8 cm. Photo: © musée Guimet / Thierry Ollivier

The milky-blue stone, domed at the rear is longitudinally pierced. The griffin, leaping to the right, in many respects resembles the common representations of this monster in Graeco-Scythian art from the north coast of the Black Sea as well as in Macedonian art from Vergina and from Tarentum: it has a muscular body, an erect, curling tail, large wings with short feathers and long flight feathers, a long, short feathers and long flight feathers, a long undulating neck with an erect crest, pointed ears and a large and gaping mouth.

Because of these similarities there is an inclination to date this gem much earlier than the date of its burial. Possibly made in blossoming period of the Graeco-Bactrian Empire or it may be a Graeco-Persian intaglio.

  • gemstone: 
chalcedony 

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