I am always in awe of master stone carvers in antiquity.  From the master masons who built soaring medieval cathedrals to the gem carvers working on tiny pieces of stone. Watch this modern day gem carver recreate a copy of an ancient Greek gem which is now part of the Getty Collection.

An engraved gem like this is often called an intaglio. Intaglios were the Ancient World's luxury goods. Intaglio actually means just the carving on the flat side of the stone. But cameos on the rounded side are sometimes called intaglios.

Carved gems were mostly used as seals. Signatures were not used way back then. So a high quality intaglio used on a seal was proof of the sender's identity.

Another example is this exquisite amethyst intaglio (circa 212 CE) depicting the Roman Emperor Caracalla.  The cross was added much later in the medieval era to make the image that of St Peter!   From the treasury of the Sainte-Chapelle in Paris.

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Original Post by THE BEADING GEM
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