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Roman
Engraved Gemstone with Scorpion
First–fourth century CE
Yellow Jasper
Indiana University Art Museum, Burton Y. Berry Collection, 76.93.4

 

 

Yellow Jasper with Scorpion

Yellow jasper was a gem that was associated with the god Hermes (Mercury) and was recognized as having the ability to cure scorpion stings. Ancient medical treatises indicate that the stone could be placed on the wound, or it could be ground-up and swallowed with wine. Yellow jasper gemstones, however, were also engraved with images of scorpion and worn in rings—possibly as a way to protect against scorpions. While yellow jasper was used most commonly in this context, other yellow gemstones were also engraved with images of scorpions (see Yellow Agate Gemstone with Scorpion, 85.62.18). This suggests the yellow color was the source of the stone’s protective properties and healing powers. 

Currently off display

Show Provenance & Exhibitions

Provenance

Period between 1928-1954, acquired by Burton Y. Berry.

?-1976, private collection of Burton Y. Berry.

1976, given to Indiana University Art Museum by Burton Y. Berry.

Cite As

"Yellow Jasper with Scorpion" (76.93.4). Bloomington: Indiana University Art Museum, 2014. http://www.indiana.edu/~iuam/online_modules/colors/objects.php?p=131.