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This article is the fi rst publication of a gold ring with a glass insert, discovered during excavations by one of the authors in the necropolis of Tanais in 2008. On the gem– intaglio, there is an image of Athena in front of a table with a vote vessel. Comparing it with the famous cameo from the State Hermitage Museum under the name “The Trial of Orestes”, the authors reveal the similarity of the iconography of the images and believe that also a fragment of a famous myth is depicted on the glass insert from Tanais.

Athena, fully dressed and with her inherent attributes, a spear and shield, is preparing to cast her vote in defense of mother–killer Orestes, and her voice will be decisive. It is known that in antiquity many masters repeated the same popular subject, adding or omitting its elements depending on the product. There is a whole scene on a cameo from the Hermitage: on the left fi eld in front of the table there is Athena standing, with her hand raised above the vessel; this composition is exactly reproduced on the shield of the golden ring of Tanais. Behind Athena, there are Orestes and his sister Electra, behind whose back there is a tree and a statue of the goddess. The small size of the intaglio from Tanais apparently forced the artisan to leave only a key figure of the composition.

The authors note the popularity of the images of Athena in the Northern Black Sea region in the Late Hellenism to Early Roman period. A large number of chest and growth images of the deity testifi es to the great signifi cance of this cult for the local population: Athena-Minerva acts as a defender and helper both during life and after death.


Classical archaeology, Cimmerian Bosporus, Tanais, glyptic, intaglio, cameo, Athena, Orestes.

Viktorya G. Chernenko,

Lomonosov Moscow State University, Moscow, Russia, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Sergey M. Ilyashenko

Institutute of Archaeology, RAS. Moscow, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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