- The Collaborative Numismatics Project
  Welcome Guest. Please login or register. The column on the left includes the "Best of NumisWiki" menu. If you are new to collecting, start with Ancient Coin Collecting 101. All blue text is linked. Keep clicking to endlessly explore. Welcome Guest. Please login or register. The column on the left includes the "Best of NumisWiki" menu. All blue text is linked. Keep clicking to endlessly explore. If you have written a numismatic article, please add it to NumisWiki.

Resources Home
Home
New Articles
Most Popular
Recent Changes
Current Projects
Admin Discussions
Guidelines
How to

Index Of All Titles


BEST OF

AEQVITI
Aes Grave
Aes Rude
The Age of Gallienus
Alexander Tetradrachms
Ancient Coin Collecting 101
Ancient Coin Prices 101
Ancient Coin Dates
Ancient Coin Lesson Plans
Ancient Coins & Modern Fakes
Ancient Counterfeits
Ancient Glass
Ancient Oil Lamps
Ancient Weapons
Ancient Wages and Prices
Ancient Weights and Scales
Anonymous Folles
Anonymous Follis
Anonymous Class A Folles
Antioch Officinae
Aphlaston
Armenian Numismatics Page
Brockage
Byzantine
Byzantine Denominations
A Cabinet of Greek Coins
Caesarean and Actian Eras
Campgates of Constantine
Carausius
A Case of Counterfeits
Byzantine Christian Themes
Clashed Dies
Codewords
Coins of Pontius Pilate
Conditions of Manufacture
Corinth Coins and Cults
Countermarked in Late Antiquity
Danubian Celts
Damnatio Coinage
Damnatio Memoriae
Denomination
Denarii of Otho
Diameter 101
Die Alignment 101
Dictionary of Roman Coins
Doug Smith's Ancient Coins
Draco
Edict on Prices
ERIC
ERIC - Rarity Tables
Etruscan Alphabet
The Evolving Ancient Coin Market
EQVITI
Facing Portrait of Augustus
Fel Temp Reparatio
Fertility Pregnancy and Childbirth
Fibula
Flavian
Fourree
Friend or Foe
The Gallic Empire
Gallienus Zoo
Greek Alphabet
Greek Coins
Greek Dates
Greek Coin Denominations
Greek Mythology Link
Greek Numismatic Dictionary
Hellenistic Names & their Meanings
Hasmoneans
Hasmonean Dynasty
Helvetica's ID Help Page
The Hexastyle Temple of Caligula
Historia Numorum
Horse Harnesses
Identifying Ancient Metal Arrowheads
Illustrated Ancient Coin Glossary
Important Collection Auctions
Islamic Rulers and Dynasties
Julian II: The Beard and the Bull
Koson
Kushan Coins
People in the Bible Who Issued Coins
Imperial Mints of Philip the Arab
Later Roman Coinage
Latin Plurals
Latin Pronunciation
Library of Ancient Coinage
Life in Ancient Rome
List of Kings of Judea
Malloy Weapons
Maps of the Ancient World
Military Belts
Mint Marks
Monogram
Museum Collections Available Online
Nabataean Alphabet
Nabataean Numerals
The [Not] Cuirassed Elephant
Not in RIC
Numismatic Bulgarian
Numismatic Excellence Award
Numismatic French
Numismatic German
Numismatic Italian
Numismatic Spanish
Parthian Coins
Patina 101
Paleo-Hebrew Alphabet
Phoenician Alphabet
Pi-Style Athens Tetradrachms
Pricing and Grading Roman Coins
Reading Judean Coins
Representations of Alexander the Great
Roman Coin Attribution 101
Roman Militaria
Roman Mints
Roman Names
romancoin.info
Rome and China
Satyrs and Nymphs
Scarabs
Serdi Celts
Serrated
Siglos
The Sign that Changed the World
Silver Content of Parthian Drachms
Star of Bethlehem Coins
Statuary Coins
Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum
Syracusian Folles
Taras Drachms with Owl Left
The Temple Tax
The Temple Tax Hoard
Test Cut
Travels of Paul
Tribute Penny
Tribute Penny Debate Continued (2015)
Tribute Penny Debate Revisited (2006)
Tyrian Shekels
Uncleaned Ancient Coins 101
Vabalathus
Venus Cloacina
What I Like About Ancient Coins
Who was Trajan Decius
Widow's Mite
XXI

   View Menu
 

Stone Work

Used with permission from "Artifacts of Ancient Civilizations" by Alex G. Malloy


The larger stone work was usually made for the community rather than individuals. In Egypt, limestone was the material of the land, and was found in the Eocene cliffs around the Nile Valley along 400 miles. Red granite, quartzite sandstone, colored marble, syenite, basalt, and obsidian were used. The great monuments of Egyptian antiquity are not available, but smaller objects, and fragments of sculpture and reliefs, are.

The Greeks used only white marble gained from quarries in Mount Pentelkon, near Athens. This deep honey-color marble had a fine grain. The marbles from Naxos, Paros, and Thasos were more crystalline. These marbles were used more in the Archaic period. These statues that have come to us today were from temples, sanctuaries, and tombs, or were a kind of limestone sculpture primarily used for architectural decorations. These items rarely appear for the collector, and the prices are only for the wealthy connoisseur. Cyprot limestone figures are the most affordable today.

Small statues from the Cyclades in the 3rd millennium B.C. now command very high prices today. Smaller Hellenistic sculpture is available today, and will bring strong prices. Many art historians believe this was the pinnacle of art achievement. Roman sculpture is available, and generally it is very much the same as Greek sculpture. While the quality is less, the Romans copied the Greek originals down to the 1st century B.C. Marble sculpture was produced all through the Roman Empire. Notable centers of sculpture making were Palmyra, Alexandria, and Aphrodisias in the province of Asia. The stone used for Roman sculpture was from the region of Carrara. A fine white marble with gray veins was also used. The high point of Roman sculpture was reached during the reigns of Antoninus Pius through Marcus Aurelius. The 3rd century A.D. saw a decline to the stylized art of the Constantine period. 

Small stone work is among man's earliest expressions of art and utility. The earliest examples are stone chipped axeheads, scrapers, and arrowheads. The tools are found in northeast Africa, Asia, and Europe.

At the dawn of civilization, small stone amulets, stamp seals, and beads started to be made, revealing information about art, myth, and ritual of the civilizations in and around the Tigris-Euphrates.

The earliest  prehistoric stone work was produced around the 7th-5th millennium B.C. in the form of simply carved stamp seals with a carved flat surface, and pierced for suspension. By the early ceramic phase they become more numerous, and begin to take on defined shapes, such as oval hemispheroids, gable hemispheroids, high and low gables, pyramids, and loop with square base, pyramid base, and oval base. The carved designs on the base can be varied mostly with geometic and animal motifs. Throughout this period, up to 800 B.C., various animal stamp seals were produced, along with simple animal amulets. These seals have been viewed as having amuletic powers, and providing protection and good fortune to the owner. 

The cylinder seal began during the Uruk period, around 3200 B.C., in southern Mesopotamia. The cylinder seals continued to be made through the Neo-Assyrian period, in the 7th century B.C. At the end of this period, the Neo-Babylonian stamp seal became in vogue.

The cylinder seal has been widely collected throughout the centuries. Five collections have been put together during the last seventy-five years, and today it remains a popular collecting field. Certain stones were used at different periods. Agates, steatite, calcite, serpentine, quarts, limestone, and lapis lazuli were used in the earlier period. During the turn of the 2nd millennium B.C., hematite was used extensively, especially during the Old Babylonian period. During the later periods, we also find fine chalcedony, carnelian, and crystal, along with faience cylinder seals.

The imagery engraved on the seals express the beliefs of these early empires. The seals remain our most complete expression of visual art. The fineness of the engraver's art is expressed, especially during the Assyrian through the Old Babylonian periods.

The process of making a cylinder seal was as follows: first, shaping the seal then drilling the hole (from each end), and then engraving the design. The first seals were drilled by hand, but by the 18th century B.C., the bow drill was used. We can tell what tool was used from the style of the seal. The simplest tool was a graver, often flint, used for soft stone. It had a beveled tip that created lines of thickness and depth. Ball and tubular drills made circular patterns. Harder stones were made with use of metal tools, and abrasives using quartz sand and emery. The images on these seals could be geometric, horned animals, heroes and beasts in combat, presentation scenes, daily life scene, and various deities.

The Greeks and Etruscans engraved hard, fine stones into intaglio gems. They reveal exceptional art in miniature. The Romans continued this practice. During the Roman Republic period, glass intaglios were widely used. In the 2nd-3rd century A.D., stone was most widely used for intaglios. Carved cameos were also finely made.