The Golden Finger-Ring from Poiana

End of the first century B.C. - first century A.D.
Gold, sardonix
Beating, engraving, grinding

    The Golden Finger-Ring from Poiana, Galați County.A Roman Import in the Area North of the Danube

    Text: Christina Știrbulescu, Alis Dumitrașcu; photo: Marius Amarie

    In the collection of the National History Museum of Romania (Bucharest) can be seen a finger-ring discovered in 1949 in the settlement of Poiana, Galați County. The site is placed at the edge of the North-West of the village, on a terrace located at about 200 m over the Siret River. The item was unearthed alongside a rich archaeological material on the last level of habitation, conventionally called ”Poiana IV”, dated in the second to the third century AD. In a more recently book (Piroboridava. Așezarea geto-dacică de la Poiana) was advanced a new stratigraphy in which the last habitation level (no. 5) was framed in the chronological interval included between the beginning of the first century ante Christum and the half of the second century post Christum.

    Classified, in literature, in the category of imports, the finger-ring was recognized as a typical product for the Roman jewellery created under Greek influence – tradition reflected mainly by the cameo mounted in the ring bezel. Its belonging to the Roman cultural space is also recognized through working technologies involved in the hoop manufacturing - made from a gold sheet. Regarding the cameo, it is distinguished by the imprint of Hellenism and the superior quality of the workmanship. These specific features for the Roman glyptic from the period between the second half of the first century BC - first century AD, are largely due to the penetration of a large number of engravers from the Greek space, whose style prevailed in front of local craftsmen.

    The cameo can be positioned between the items created especially for the official area, with connection to the military environment, Athena/Minerva being par excellence the armed goddess, the guide of the soldiers. This assumption is also reinforced by the massive appearance of the ring - the generous diameter of the ring indicating its wearing by a man.

    From a functional point of view, the ring cannot be placed between the sealing ones for two reasons: the first is the existence of the cameo (which presupposes an embossed model) and the second the processing of the gold foil ring. Thus, the hoop, although it looks massive, the fact that it is empty on the inside does not give it resistance.

    Based on these arguments, the item can be placed among the rings made, at order for a person (quite important) in the military milieu. In this situation, in Roman area, the ring appears like an important object both by the symbolism correlated with the goddess Minerva, and by the material from which it was made - gold, sardonyx and, on the other hand, its presence in the ancient settlement on the bank of the Siret River can be interpreted as a reconfirmation of the military presence in the area and, at the same time, of the connections between the local population and the newcomers.


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