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Classical Phoenician Scarab Corpus


'Classical Phoenician scarabs' were made in Phoenicia in the period of the Achaemenid Persian empire, from the later sixth century to the mid-fourth century BC. Beside the Etruscan, they are the last major production of scarab seals of antiquity. They are made of green jasper, the colour probably being of as much importance as their intaglios since it enhances their amuletic value.

Most of the 1500 examples known have been found in the west Phoenician (Punic) cemeteries of Carthage, Sardinia and Ibiza (Spain), but there are many also from the east Mediterranean. It was long held that all were western products but it is more likely, on many other grounds, that they were made in the Phoenician homeland. They served as jewellery, as offerings in tombs and sanctuaries, and for their primary function of sealing. Many were given precious metal mounts.

The subjects of the intaglios are the most eclectic of any medium of the period. They include Egyptianizing (the common stock of Phoenicia for many years), Levantine (more Syrian in style and subject) and Hellenizing (mainly following late archaic Greek subjects and styles, whence many have been called Greco-Phoenician). But there are also many Miscellaneous, and much overlapping of categories, which are simply for the convenience of scholars and not to be taken as reflecting on use or provenience. To each category in the catalogue given here is appended a select list of scarabs with the same subjects in other materials (with X numbers) some of which are also illustrated; these appear to be of the same period and from the same sites but not the same workshops.

The series has been studied in more detail by John Boardman in Classical Phoenician Scarabs (Beazley Archive and Archaeopress, 2003) where there is selective illustration. This webpage has been designed to repeat the whole catalogue from the book, with some updates and modifications.

The material has been assembled over many years but its final ordering was made possible only by a generous grant from the Leverhulme Foundation of an Emeritus Research Fellowship.

Each of the catalogue sections is here put on line, with illustrations. For the full index see Index to catalogue. For an explanation of the abbreviations see abbreviations. For the chart explaining the border patterns and types of hoop see borders and mounts.

Scarab abbreviations


A. Furtwängler, Die antiken Gemmen (1900)


Antiken Gemmen in deutschen Sammlungen


J. Boardman, Archaic Greek Gems (1968)


Australian Journal of Biblical Archaeology

Along the Routes

Along the Routes of the Phoenicians Carthage Museum (1998)


M.J. Almagro-Gorbea, Orfebreria Fenicio- Punica (1987)


E. Acquaro et al. (eds.), Anecdota Tharrhica (1975)


American Numismatic Society


Archaeologia Classica


Archivo Español de Arqueologia


M. Astruc, La Necropolis de Villaricos (1951)

Atti II FP

Atti II Congresso di Studi Fenici-Punici (1991)


Bullettino Archeologico Sardo


AGDS II (1969) (E. Zwierlein-Diehl)


B.Y. Berry, Ancient Gems from the Collection of Burton Y. Berry (1968/9)


Biblo: una città e la sua cultura (Colloquio, Roma, 5-7 Dic. 1990) (1994)


E. Acquaro, La collezione Biggio. Antichità puniche a Sant'Antioco (1977)

Boardman, IR

J. Boardman, Intaglios and Rings (1975)

Boardman, PW

J. Boardman, Persia and the West (2000)


P. Bordreuil, Catalogue des sceaux ouest- sémitiques inscrits...Bibliothèque Nationale (


S.F. Bondi et al. (eds.), Studi in onore di Edda Bresciani (1986)


J. Boardman, 'Near Eastern and Archaic Greek Gems in Budapest'. Bull. Mus. Hongrois des Beaux-Arts 32/33 (1969) 7-17


Bulletin Archéologique


M. Dunand, Fouilles de Byblos I (1937-9), II (1933-8)


M. Henig, Classical Gems. Fitzwilliam Museum (1994)


J. Vercoutter, Les objets égyptiens et égyptisants du mobilier funéraire carthaginois (1945)


Compte Rendu. Académie des Inscriptions et Belles Lettres


O. Keel, Corpus der Stempelsiegel-Amulette aus Palästina/Israel Einleitung (1995); I (1997).

de Clercq

A. de Ridder, Collection de Clercq VII.2 (1911)


L. Delaporte, Catalogue des cylindres...II. Acquisitions. Louvre (1920-1923)


G. Ebers, 'Sopra alcune antichità sarde e loro provenienza', Annali dell'Instituto 55 (1883) 86- 147


J. Boardman, 'Some Africans in Classical Phoenician Scarabs'. Eirene 31 (1995) 62-68


J. Boardman, 'Greek Myths on 'Greco-Phoenician' Scarabs' in Fest. U. Hausmann (1982) 295-297


Gazette Archéologique


M.-L. Vollenweider, Catalogue raisonée. Genève I (1967); III (1983)


J. Spier, Ancient Gems and Finger Rings. J. Paul Getty Museum (1992)


J. Boardman, Greek Gems and Finger Rings (1970/2001)

Gubel, Furn

E. Gubel, Phoenician Furniture (1987)


AGDS IV (1975) (M. Schlüter et al.)


AGDS IV (1975) (P. Zazoff)

Henig, Lewis

M. Henig, The Lewis Collection of Gemstones (1975)

Hölbl, Sard

G. Hölbl, Ägyptisches Kulturgut in phönizischen und punischen Sardinien (1986)

Homenaje Blazquez

Homenaje a José M. Blazquez (1993)


E. Hornung and E. Stahelin, Skarabäen und andere Siegelamulette aus Basler Sammlungen (1976)

The Phoenicians

S. Moscati, ed., The Phoenicians (1988)


J. Boardman, Escarabeos de piedra procedentes de Ibiza (1984)


Journal of Hellenic Studies


II (1978); III (1999); XV (1996). Saarbrücker Beitrage zur Altertumskunde)


F. Rakob, ed., Karthago II (1997); III (1999) (to distinguish from the periodical Karthago 1...)


AGDS III (1970) (P. Zazoff)

Kition II

G. Clerc, et al. (eds.) Fouilles de Kition II (1976)


F. Lajard, Recherches sur le Vénus en Orient et en Occident (1849)


J.D. Beazley, Lewes House Gems (1920) - now in Boston


Lexicon Iconographicum Mythologiae Classicae (1981-99)


H.B. Walters, Catalogue of the Engraved Gems and Cameos...British Museum (1926)

Lopez de la Orden

Lopez de la Orden, La glyptica de la antiguedad en Andalucia (1990)

Los Fenicios

Olmo Lete and C. Aubet (eds.), Los Fenicios (1986)


F.H. Marshall, Catalogue of the Finger Rings...British Museum (1907)


Monumenti Antichi


A. Della Marmora, Sopra alcune antichità sarde (1853)


Memoria. Junta Superior de Excavaciones y Antigüedades


Madrider Mitteilungen

Monte Sirai

Monte Sirai. Rapporto Preliminare I- (1964-). Rome.


Christie's June 29 1898. The Morrison Collection of Gems and Antiquities

Moscati, Gioielli

S. Moscati, I Gioielli di Tharros (1968)


Münzen und Medaillen, Basel


AGDS I (1968) (E.Brandt)


Numismatic Art and Ancient Coins, Zurich


Numismatic and Ancient Art Gallery, Zurich


Nuovo Bullettino Archeologico Sardo

New York

G.M.A. Richter, Catalogue of Engraved Gems. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (1956)


H.H. von der Osten, Ancient Oriental Seals in the Collection of Edward T. Newell (1934)


G. Nicolini, Techniques des arts antiques (1990)


A. Nunn, Die figürliche Motivschatz Phöniziens, Syriens und Transjordaniens vom 6. bis zum 4. Jahrhundert v. Chr. (2000)


C.C. Oman, Victoria and Albert Museum. Catalogue of Rings (1930)


Opuscula Atheniensia


Oriens Antiquus

Oxford I

J. Boardman and M.-L. Vollenweider, Catalogue of the Engraved Gems and Finger Rings. Ashmolean Museum, Oxford I (1978)

Oxford III

B.Buchanan and P.R.S. Moorey, Catalogue of Ancient Near Eastern Seals. Ashmolean Museum, Oxford III (Stamp Seals) (1988)

Padro, New, II, III

J. Padro, Egyptian-type Documents from the...Iberian Peninsula II (1983), III (1985), New... (1995)

Parrot et al.

A. Parrot et al., Les Phéniciens (1975)


E. Babelon, La Collection Pauvert de la Chapelle (1899)


G. Perrot and C. Chipiez, Histoire de l'art dans l'antiquité III (1885); V (1890)

Pisano, Gioielli G.

Quattrocchi Pisano, I gioelli fenici di Tharros nel museo nazionale di Cagliari (1974)

Pisano, Gioielli It.

G. Pisano, I Gioielli fenici e punici in Italia (1988)


Quarterly of the Department of Antiquities, Palestine


B. Quillard, Bijoux carthaginois I (1979), II (1987)


Revue Archéologique


Rendiconti. Atti della Pontificia Accademia Romana


Revue des Etudes Phéniciens-Puniques et des Antiquités Libyques (Tunis)


A.T. Reyes, The Stamp Seals of Ancient Cyprus (2001)


Römische Mitteilungen


Royal Ontario Musuem, Toronto


Rendiconti. Atti delle Pontificia Accademia Romana


Rivista di Studi Fenici


B. Sass and C. Uehlinger (eds.), Studies in the Iconography of Northwest Semitic Inscribed Seals (1993)


E. Gjerstad et al., The Swedish Cyprus Expedition II (1935)


H. Carnegie, Catalogue of the Collection of Antiquities formed by James, Ninth Earl of Southesk (1908)


G. Spano, Catalogo della raccolta archeologica sarda del canonico Giovanni Spano, da lui donato al Museo d'Antichità di Cagliari 1860


F. Sternberg, Auctions and Lists, Zurich

Studies Quaegebeur

Egyptian Religion (Studies... J. Quaegebeur. 1998)


A. Taramelli, 'La necropoli di Predio Ibba a S. Avendrace Cagliari', MA 21 (1912) 45-224.


J. Tassie and R.E.Raspe, A Descriptive Catalogue of a General Collection (1791)


R.D. Barnett and C. Mendleson (eds.), Tharros. A Catalogue of the Material in the British Museum (1987)


E. Zwierlein-Diehl, Die antiken Gemmen des Kunsthistorisches Museums im Wien I (1973)

Vives y Escudero

A. Vives y Escudero, Estudios de Arqueologia Cartaginesa. Necropoli de Ibiza (1917)


C. Wagner and J. Boardman, Classical and Eastern Intaglios, Rings and Cameos in a Private Collection (2003)


H. Wiegandt, Charms of the Past (1998)


P. Zazoff, Die antiken Gemmen (1983)

Chart of borders and mounts

Chart of borders and mounts

Abbreviations used to describe types of border patterns and metal mounts.

Index to catalogue

(select a link below to obtain the relevant section)

I. Mainly egyptianizing

1. Hieroglyphs and other symbols

  • Hieroglyphs
  • Various symbols

2. Disc or cartouche, crowned or carried

  • Disc with crown, uraei and 'mountain'
  • Ditto, without 'mountain'
  • Crowned cartouche
  • Disc carried
  • Disc on boat

3. Naiskoi

4. Crowns

5. Beetle and disc

6. Deities and adorants

  • Heads
  • Winged figure standing (wings up/down)
  • Lion-headed
  • Single, with animal head
  • Pairs, including adorants or gods
  • Pairs or trios with Osiris
  • Other single and nondescript, divine or mortal

7. Kneelers

  • Falcon-headed
  • With other animal heads
  • With human heads

8. Boats

9. Hawks

  • Displayed
  • Standing, wings forward
  • Standing, wings folded

10. Isis alone

  • With flowers
  • Standing in profile
  • Two face each other
  • Wingless, kneeling, with flowers
  • Seated alone
  • Other

11. Isis with Horus

  • Facing each other
  • Facing Horus or others, wings up/down
  • Protects Horus with lowered wing
  • Seated with Horus on lap
  • Kneeling with Horus on lap
  • Two figures, wings up/down, with Horus
  • Other

12. Horus

  • Squatting
  • Other settings

13. Uraei

14. Wingless sphinxes

15. Winged sphinxes and griffins

  • More Greek than Levantine
  • More Levantine/Egyptian than Greek
  • With naiskos or boat
  • Winged griffins

II. Mainly Levantine

16. Royal warriors and various

  • With pointed helmet
  • With flat square crown
  • With pointed helmet fighting a goat
  • Other (riding)

17. Royalty, deities or others

  • King or god seated with incense-burner
  • ditto, without incense-burner
  • Standing before incense-burner
  • In naiskos or boat

18. King or god fights humanoid

19. King or god fights lion

  • With conical mitre
  • With vertical crown
  • Other

20. Seated goddess

21. Bull-headed deity

  • Seated before incense-burner
  • Fighting

22. Bes

  • Head
  • Profile bust
  • Alone
  • Fights standing lion
  • With two lions
  • With two other animals
  • With four animals
  • Other animal settings
  • Shoulders a lion
  • Crosses a lion
  • Winged Bes
  • Bes-sphinx
  • Fights griffin

23. Chariots

  • Biga with two figures
  • Other

24. Africans

  • Diner
  • Hunter
  • Warrior

25. Sacred trees

III. Mainly hellenizing

26. Sea deities and subjects

  • Man with trident and fish
  • Man with trident rides sea horse or dolphin
  • 'Triton'
  • Shells, crabs
  • Other

27. Horsemen

28. Warriors

  • Walking
  • Kneeling/running
  • Bowman tests arrow
  • Warrior with lowered club
  • Warrior with raised club
  • Slinger
  • Other single figures
  • Groups

29. Genre

  • Hunter
  • With animals
  • With implements

30. Komasts and athletes

  • Komasts
  • Athletes

31. Satyrs

  • Head
  • Running
  • Reclining
  • Carrying woman
  • Tailless hunter?
  • Other

32. Herakles

  • Head with lionskin
  • Kneeling, with lionskin
  • Walking, with lionskin, raised club, bow
  • Club raised, holding inverted lion
  • Standing fight with lion
  • Other lion fights
  • Fighting a snake

33. Hermes

34. Gorgons

35. Greek Myth Figures and Subjects

  • Sirens
  • Sphinx carrying youth
  • Pegasos
  • Erotes flying
  • Europa on bull?
  • Pygmy rides dog
  • Selene?
  • Griffin and Arimasp?
  • Potnia theron
  • Peleus and Thetis

IV. Miscellaneous

36. Heads

  • With helmet or petasos
  • Bearded profile
  • African profile
  • Youthful, profile
  • Other, facing or three-quarter

37. Joined heads

38. Lions

  • Head and foreleg
  • Seated with facing head
  • Seated profile
  • Walking or crouching
  • Rolling
  • With cub
  • Other

39. Lions or griffins attack other animals

  • Two lions attack a bull
  • Lion attacks bull from far side
  • Lion attacks bull or boar from front
  • Lion attacks from behind
  • Lion attacks bull on its back

40. Cattle

  • Facing head, forepart
  • Bulls alone
  • Cow and calf

41. Eagle attacks

42. Winged creatures

  • Boar foreparts
  • Lions
  • Bulls
  • Other monsters

43. Various animals

  • Heads and foreparts of sheep, goats
  • Deer, antelope, goats
  • Boars, sows
  • Dogs
  • Horses
  • Insects
  • Whirl of two half-animals
  • Joined human and animal
  • Waterbird with dolphin head
  • Others

44. Various

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