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H 290 x W 205 mm

618 pages

Fully illustrated catalogue containing 1,015 figures (in colour)

Published May 2020

Archaeopress Archaeology


Hardback: 9781789695397

Digital: 9781789695403

Recommend to a librarian

Augustus; cameos; engraved gems; glyptics; intaglios; numismatics; propaganda; Roman

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Archaeopress Roman Archaeology 65

Engraved Gems and Propaganda in the Roman Republic and under Augustus

By Paweł Gołyźniak

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This book studies small but highly captivating artworks from antiquity – engraved gemstones. These objects had multiple applications, and the images upon them captured snapshots of people's beliefs, ideologies, and everyday occupations. They provide a unique perspective on the propaganda of Roman political leaders, especially Octavian/Augustus.



Foreword and acknowledgments ;

Part I Introduction ;
1. Preface ;

2. State of research ;

3. Aims, methodology and structure ;

Part II Theory ;
4. Self-presentation and propaganda – definitions and characteristics ;
4.1. Definitions of ‘self-presentation’ and ‘propaganda’ ;
4.2. Propaganda and persuasion ;
4.3. Propaganda and public opinion ;
4.4. Propaganda as a form of communication ;
4.5. Forms of propaganda ;
4.6. Tools and techniques of propaganda ;
4.7. The effectiveness of propaganda

5. Roman propaganda on engraved gems – general introduction ;
5.1. Anticipated areas of propaganda on engraved gems ;
5.2. Problems with studying propaganda in ancient times with emphasis on engraved gems

Part III Evidence ;
6. Beginnings (3rd-2nd centuries BC) ;
6.1. Etruscan and Italic tradition (self-presentation) ;
6.2. Hellenistic influences ;
6.3. Roman tradition (family symbols, personal branding, commemoration, state propaganda)

7. Early 1st century BC ;
7.1. Lucius Cornelius Sulla ;
7.2. Gaius Marius ;
7.3. Lucius Licinius Lucullus ;
7.4. Other politicians

8. Civil War: Pompey the Great, Julius Caesar and contemporaries ;
8.1. Pompey the Great ;
8.2. Julius Caesar ;
8.3. Less significant politicians and women from the times of the Civil War

9. Post-Caesarian and Liberators’ Civil Wars (from death of Caesar to Octavian’s sole rule: 44-27 BC) ;
9.1. The Pompeians ;
9.2. The Republicans ;
9.3. The Caesarians ;
9.4. Less significant politicians ;
9.5. Women and their propaganda significance on engraved gems

10. Augustus (27 BC-AD 14) ;
10.1. Collecting ;
10.2. Gem engravers working for Augustus ;
10.3. The final seal of Augustus ;
10.4. Portraits – personal branding induction and manifestation of loyalty ;
10.5. Commemoration and State Cameos ;
10.6. Divine and mythological references ;
10.7. Mythological Foundations of the New Rome ;
10.8. Promotion of peace and prosperity ;
10.9. Luxury objects (State Cameos, cameo vessels etc.) and religious propaganda ;
10.10. Promotion of family and successors ;
Divus Augustus ;

Part IV Summary and conclusions ;
11. Provenance, provenience, production and distribution of propaganda gems ;

12. Statistics ;

13. Summary and conclusions: ;
13.1. Use of gems in triumphs ;
13.2. Collecting ;
13.3. Employment of gem engravers ;
13.4. Seals ;
13.5. Personal branding and self-promotion ;
13.6. Induction and manifestation of loyalty and support ;
13.7. Use of heritage ;
13.8. Promotion of family and oneself through
origo ;
13.9. Promotion of faction ;
13.10. Commemoration ;
13.11. Religious, divine and mythological references ;
13.12. Political symbols and promotion of abstract ideas (
ordo rerum, Pax Augusta and aurea aetas) ;
13.13. Luxury objects: State Cameos – carved vessels – works in the round ;
13.14. Final remarks

Part V Catalogue, figures, bibliography and indices ;
Catalogue ;

Figures ;

Figure credits ;

Bibliography ;


About the Author

Paweł Gołyźniak works as a Research Fellow in the Institute of Archaeology, Jagiellonian University in Krakow. His research interests include engraved gems (ancient and neo-classical), Roman Republican and Augustan numismatics, history of antiquarianism, collecting and scholarship as well as 18th century drawings of intaglios and cameos and the legacy of antiquary and connoisseur Philipp von Stosch (1691-1757).


'... this volume—splendidly produced at an extraordinarily low price for what it contains (and actually free to download in PDF format)—is a book of enduring worth. Gołyźniak deserves our gratitude for writing one of the best books on Roman gems to have been published for a very long time.' - Dr Martin Henig (2020): The Journal of Gemmology

'The catalog (331-445) is the result of a collector's tour de force. All of the approximately 2,900 objects are listed with basic information and, to a significant extent, also illustrated. It is this enormous collection of material that gives the impression that all the objects assembled should be given equal consideration. As a result, motives that can be associated with the aspect of propaganda stand alongside those for which such a connection remains questionable.

As a result, the present volume is a comprehensive compendium on a range of motifs within Glyptic, which previous research has linked to political topics of the late Republic and early Imperial period. The challenge of analyzing the complex problem area of propagating political issues within the framework of a narrow personal world of images will have to be faced again on the basis of this volume.' - Jörn Lang (2022): Redaktion sehepunkte

'All in all, Paweł Gołyźniak has presented a very stimulating and largely very convincing study on the political use of gems in Rome, which makes the material easily accessible, especially for historians, and will represent the starting point for further work.' – Klaus Scherberich (2021): Bonner Jahrbücher 221