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The Michael C. Carlos Museum presents Making an Impression: The Art and Craft of Ancient Engraved Gemstones
Exploring the material, production, and various functions of these small but significant ancient artworks, Making an Impression draws attention to the people who interacted with them—from the enslaved miners who quarried the stones, to the engravers who carved them, to the individuals who wore them, and the viewers impressed by their luster.



ATLANTA, GA.- Making an Impression: The Art and Craft of Ancient Engraved Gemstones is the first exhibition of ancient gems in the southeastern United States and will open on August 27, 2022.

Organized by the museum's curator of Greek and Roman art, Dr. Ruth Allen, Making an Impression draws from the museum’s collection of Greek and Roman gems, many of which have never been displayed publicly, and are supplemented and contextualized by key loans that explore the material, iconography, and function of engraved gemstones in classical antiquity. Carved from semiprecious stones with miniature images of various subjects including gods, emperors, animals, and characters from myth, engraved gems in the Greek and Roman worlds were used as signets, amulets, and personal ornaments, typically mounted in rings. They were admired (and problematized) as luxury artworks, treasured as antiques and heirlooms, and worn as statements of status, wealth, sophistication, and learning.

Exploring the material, production, and various functions of these small but significant ancient artworks, Making an Impression draws attention to the people who interacted with them—from the enslaved miners who quarried the stones, to the engravers who carved them, to the individuals who wore them, and the viewers impressed by their luster. It argues that, whether used as sealstone, amulet, or personal ornament, engraved gems were intimately involved in the making, marking, and safeguarding of personal identity, and that despite their small size and seeming frivolity, engraved gems provide large windows onto different aspects of the classical world, from cross Mediterranean trade and the expansion of empire, to administrative practice, to the expression of gender, status and wealth and the pursuit of luxury, to encounters with the divine, and ideas about magic and medicine.










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