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date: 17 October 2019

Dexamenos of Chioslocked

(fl 5th century bc).
  • Dimitris Plantzos


(fl 5th century bc).

Greek gem-engraver, presumably born on the island of Chios. His signature survives on four of the gems he engraved, all fine specimens of 5th-century Classical Greek art. Two of these works come from sites in southern Russia, in the region to the north of the Black Sea, widely populated by Greek colonists since the 6th century bc. It is thus suggested that Dexamenos was active in the Black Sea colonies, catering for the Greeks residing there or for clientele drawn among the native populations, who widely interacted with the Greeks in most matters, as well as art.

Between 480 and 450 bc, gem-cutting in mainland Greece and the islands had undergone significant changes, gradually abandoning Late Archaic forms and motifs. The shape of choice was the scaraboid, a plain-backed, often highly domed oval stone, carrying a device engraved on its flat side. These stones were perforated lengthways, in order to be fitted in a metal swivel hoop or a plain piece of string. Chalcedony is the commonest material, in its white and blue varieties, though there are many examples cut in cornelian, rock crystal, agate and jasper. Dexamenos’ four signed works show a remarkable variety of subject-matter, as well as being some of the finest examples of Greek art of the time (...

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