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Glyptique romaine

Roman cameos with female busts from Middle and Lower Danube

Camées romains à bustes de femmes provenant du Danube moyen et inférieur
Ivana Popović
p. 203-224

Résumés

Sur les sites du Danube moyen et inférieur, en particulier dans les emplacements civils proches des grands camps militaires, ont été trouvés de nombreux camées faits de pierres semi-précieuses, des variétés d’opales, d’onyx et d’agate, sur lesquelles est représenté un buste de femme vu de profil, tourné soit vers la droite soit vers la gauche. Les traits du visage sont dans la plupart des cas schématiques, alors que les coiffures sont représentées très précisément, selon la mode dictée par les impératrices des dynasties des Antonins et des Sévères. C’est sur la base de ces faits qu’ont été chronologiquement séparés les groupes de ces trouvailles, qui montrent que la production la plus intensive de camées de ce type se situe dans les périodes allant de 160 à 180 et de 200 à 230. Très nombreuses sont les trouvailles de camées à buste de femme à la coiffure semblable à celle des impératrices de la dynastie des Sévères, à un moment où les cités du Danube connaissaient une période de prospérité. A ce groupe appartient aussi un camée inclus dans le médaillon en or découvert en 2006 dans une tombe de Viminacium (nº 25). C’est de ce site que provient le plus grand nombre de ces camées (11 probablement), qui, avec les trouvailles en provenance de la Mésie Supérieure, montre que l’on peut situer les importants ateliers de leur production à Viminacium, Novae et Durostorum, tandis que de plus petits centres de glyptiques étaient à l’œuvre en Thrace et en Pannonie. Les bustes de femmes sur les camées ont pour modèles les visages des impératrices: on peut donc regarder ce type d’objets comme une forme de propagande en faveur de la dynastie impériale.

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Notes de l’auteur

Note on illustrations
The origin of the photographies of cameos: Nº 1‑5, 6, 7, 12, 13, 16‑18, 28, 29, 31, 38-40 documentation of the National Museum in Belgrade; 8, 9, 11, 20, 21, 24, 33, 34 documentation of the National Archaeological Museum in Sofia; 14, 27, 36 documentation of the Archaeological Museum in Zagreb; 30 documentation of the National History Museum of Romania in Bucarest; 22 documentation of the Regional Historical Museum in Pleven; 23 documentation of the Regional Historical Museum in Vidin; 35 documentation of the Historical Museum of Stara Zagora; 25 documentation of the scientific project Viminacium, Archaeological Institute in Belgrade; 5, 15, 37 after: Geszetelyi 2000, N
o. 279-281; 10, 26 after: Geszetelyi 2001, Nº 68, 69; 19 after: Vágó, Bóna 1975, Taf. XXV, 1; 9 after: Getov, Popov 1972, fig. 3.

Texte intégral

  • 1 I am grateful to dr Miomir Korać, the director of the scientific project Viminacium, for enabling m (...)
  • 2 Popović, 1996, cat. 139‑142 (with analogies).
  • 3 Dimitrova, 1969, p. 43‑50; Dimitrova-Milcheva, 1981, p. 19‑20; Popović, 1989, p. 9‑12; 51‑54.
  • 4 Wegner, 1938, Abb. 2, 4; Wegner, 1939; Wessel, 1946/47, 62‑76, Abb. I-VI.

1During the archaeological excavations of the necropolis in Roman Viminacium in 2006, at the site Pirivoj, in a freely dug in grave, on the chest of a deceased woman, on the left side, was found a cameo in a gold medallion (Nº 25), hanged on a necklace consisting of 170 beads made of black paste. On the chest of the deceased woman there was also a bronze coin of Iulia Domna (211‑217), and on the fingers of the left hand there were two rings, one made of black glass-paste, and the other made of gold, with an inserted stone of red color.1 On the cameo of oval shape, made of two-layer opal, with the light-blue background, in the white layer is represented in relief a bust of a female person in the profile to the left. The lower parts of the face and the chin are missing. The eye is big, almond-shaped and wide open. Special attention is payed to depicting the hairstyle. The hair, represented by thin incisions, is following the line of the forehead, falling behind the ears down to the end of the neck, where it is braided in a plait, which is at the back of the head bent twice. The plait is marked by the incised X ornaments. The woman is dressed into a transparent tunica, under which the breasts are discernible. The dress, whose oval edge under the neck is marked in relief, is fastened on the right shoulder with an oval buckle, so the upper part of the arm is not covered. Over the left shoulder is thrown a cloak, richly gathered into folds, which, going under the breasts, covers the right arm above the elbow and goes up to the neck. The folds on the cloak are modeled in relief. The cameo is inserted into a cassette made of gold tin, whose horizontal frame is decorated in relief with the motif of stylized palmettes. On the top is applied a wide, gouged, suspension loop. The medallions with analogously decorated frames are well represented not only in Viminacium, but also at the other sites on Danube.2 The find of this cameo in the gold medallion inspired us to return again to the theme of cameos with the representation of the female bust, very numerous finds on the Middle and Lower Danube and relatively rare in the other parts of the Empire. Although about these finds it has already been written in the scientific literature,3 our opinion is that they should be researched in more detail, that the possible workshops in which the cameos were produced should be determined, and that their function should be observed looking at them in the context of the historical circumstances at the time when they were made. Because, besides the newly found specimen these finds are already published, we will not describe them in detail, but we will try, on the basis of the way of combing the hair of represented women, to determine the time of production of these cameos and to represent them in their chronological sequence. Although, in contrast to the summarily treated faces, the female hairstyle on the cameos is represented in detail, authentically reflecting the fashion dictated by the empresses, there are some imprecisions in defining certain specimens, because the empresses in the course of time were changing the way of combing their hair, and sometimes more of them had the same or very similar hairstyle.4

1. Late Antoninian Period, between 160 and 180 (pl. IX-X)

2a) Hair is combed back along the head, covering the ears and low at the back of the head it is gathered into a knot, wrapped into a net – the hairstyle characteristic for the wives of Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus (Faustina Minor, 130‑176 and Lucilla, 149‑182).

3    1. Viminacium
Cameo in a gold medallion, National Museum, Belgrade, inv. 3793/III two-layer opal; gold, dim. 11 × 7 mm
Bibl. Popović 1989, cat. 36; Popović 1996, cat. 137.

4    2. Viminacium
Cameo, National Museum, Belgrade, inv. 3797/III multi-layer agate; dim. 18 × 14 mm
Bibl. Popović 1989, cat. 37.

5    3. Viminacium (?)
Cameo, National Museum, Belgrade, inv. 1953/II multi-layer opal; dim. 12 × 7 mm
Bibl. Popović 1989, cat. 38.

6b) Hair is covering the ears, lifted above the forehead and then fixed in front of the top of the head, forming a thick plait. At the back of the head it is gathered into a big nest- like knot, around which the plait is coiled (Nestfrisur) – the hairstyle characteristic for the empresses from the Antoninian dynasty (Faustina Minor, Crispina, 164‑188), as also for the wife and daughter of Didius Iulianus, who died in 193 (Manilla Scantilla and Didia Clara).

7    4. Viminacium (?)
Cameo, National Museum, Belgrade, inv. 1954/II multi-layer opal; dim. 11 × 7 mm
Bibl. Popović 1989, cat. 35.

8    5. Provenance not known (South Pannonia, North Balkans?)
Cameo, in a gold medallion hanged on a gold chain, Nemzeti Museum, Budapest, inv. R. 37.1920
multi-layer sardonyx; dim. 19 × 10 mm Bibl. Gesztelyi 2000, Nº 279.

9    6. Provenance not known (Serbian part of Danube Valley?)
Cameo, National Museum, Belgrade, inv. 1952/II two-layer opal; dim. 11 × 12 mm
provenance not known Bibl. Popović 1989, cat. 40

10    7. Viminacium
Cameo in a gold ring, National Museum, Belgrade, inv. 3784/III multi-layer opal, gold; 18 × 18 mm
Bibl. Popović 1989, cat. 41; Popović 1992b, cat. 28.

11    8. Aquae Calidae
Cameo in a gold ring, National Archaeological Museum, Sofia, inv. 5049 agate, gold; dim. 11 × 6 mm
Bibl. Dimitrova-Milcheva 1981, cat. 301; Ruseva-Slokoska 1991, cat. 205.

12    9. Ljulin, District of Jambol
Cameo, Regional Historical Museum, Jambol
two-layer sardonyx
Bibl. Getov, Popov 1972, p. 43‑44, Nº 3.

13    10. Brigetio, Bélapuszta
Cameo, Kuny Domokos Museum of Tata, inv. K. 132
sardonyx; dim. 14 × 9 × 6 mm Bibl. Gesztelyi 2001, cat. 68.

14c) Hair is falling in waves down along the cheek, to be gathered high at the back of the head into a big knot, around which the plate is coiled, wrapped into a ribbon which can go also over the top of the head – hairstyle characteristic for the wife of Lucius Verus (Crispina).

15    11. Almus
Cameo, National Archaeological Museum, Sofia, inv. 6379 sardonyx; dim. 17 × 10 mm
Bibl. Dimitrova 1969, p. 44, fig. 1; Dimitrova-Milcheva 1981, cat. 296, fig. 295.

16    12. Provenance not known (Serbian part of Danube Valley?)
Cameo in a gold medallion, National Museum, Belgrade, inv. 1966/II
two-layer opal, gold; dim. 34 × 22 mm
Bibl. Popović 1989, cat. 39; Popović 1996, cat. 143.

17    13. Viminacium
Cameo, National Museum, Belgrade, inv. 1949/II
three-layer opal; dim. 17 × 11 mm
Bibl. Popović 1989, cat. 42.

18    14. Jarak, vicinity of Sirmium
Cameo, Archaeological Museum in Zagreb, inv. 15914
two-layer agate; dim. 18 × 11 mm
Bibl. Nemeth-Ehrlich 1996, p. 121, Nº 164; Nemeth-Ehrlich 1991, p. 168, Nº 244;
Nemeth-Ehrlich 1993, p. 168, Nº 244.

Pl. IX. Cameos with representation of a female bust: 1-2 Viminacium; 3-4 Viminacium (?); 5 south Pannonia, north Balkans (?); 6 Serbian part of Danube Valley (?); 7 Viminacium; 8 Aquae Calidae; 9 Ljulin; 10 Brigetio; 11 Almus; 12 Serbian side of Danube (?) (I. Popović)

Pl. IX. Cameos with representation of a female bust: 1-2 Viminacium; 3-4 Viminacium (?); 5 south Pannonia, north Balkans (?); 6 Serbian part of Danube Valley (?); 7 Viminacium; 8 Aquae Calidae; 9 Ljulin; 10 Brigetio; 11 Almus; 12 Serbian side of Danube (?) (I. Popović)

Pl. X. Cameos with representation of a female bust: 13 Viminacium; 14 Jarak; 15 south Pannonia (?); 16 Viminacium; 17 Serbian part of Danube Valley (?); 18 Viminacium (?)(I. Popović)

Pl. X. Cameos with representation of a female bust: 13 Viminacium; 14 Jarak; 15 south Pannonia (?); 16 Viminacium; 17 Serbian part of Danube Valley (?); 18 Viminacium (?)(I. Popović)

2. Severan Period, between 200 and 230 (pl. X-XI-XII)

19a) Hair is following the line of the forehead and cheek, covering the ears and falling down to the end of the neck, where it is braided in a plait in the shape of a roll (Helmfrisur) – hairstyle which was wearing the wife of Septimius Severus, Iulia Domna (?-217).

20    15. Provenance not known (south Pannonia?)
Cameo in gold medallion, Nemzeti Museum, Budapest, inv. R 62.417.107
sardonyx, gold; dim. of medallion 36 × 20 mm
Bibl. Thomas 1956, p. 242, fig. on p. 243; Megow 1987, p. 129, 313, F 24; Gesztelyi 2000, Nº 280.

21b) Hair is braidid into plaits, lifted up from the forehead to the back side of the head, so it looks like a row of melon slices (Melonenstähenenfrisur). The plait which is falling behind the ear is bent few times on the neck, so it is forming a wide, loose knot in the shape of a roll – hairstyle characteristic for Caracala’s wife (Plautilla, ?-211), mother of Alexander Severus (Iulia Mammaea, ?-235) and wives of Elagabalus (218‑222) (Iulia Paula and Annia Faustina).

22    16. Viminacium
Cameo, National Museum, Belgrade, inv. 3798/III multi-layer agate; dim. 18 × 11 mm
Bibl. Popović 1989, cat. 44.

23    17. Provenance not known (Serbian part of Danube Valley?)
Cameo, National Museum, Belgrade, inv. 1982/II two-layer agate and opal; dim. 32 × 22 mm
Bibl. Popović 1989, cat. 43.

24    18. Viminacium (?)
Cameo in gold medallion, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Wien, inv. AS IX 1976
two-layer sardonyx; height of medallion 30 mm; a married couple is represented
Bibl. Eichler, Kris 1927, p. 81, Taf. 16. 77; Megow 1987, p. 309, Taf. 51, 11; Bernhard- Walcher et al. 1994, cat. 165.

25c) Hair is following the line of the forehead, falling down behind the ear to the end of the neck, where in the shape of bent plaits it is forming a knot in the shape of a roll – hairstyle characteristic for the empresses from the Severan dynasty (Iulia Mammaea, Iulia Soamias, Annia Faustina).

26    19. Intercisa, grave 57
Cameo in a gold medallion, hanged on the necklace made of jet, Museum Dunaújváros dark blue stone (opal), height of medallion 24 mm
Bibl. Vágó, Bona 1975, p. 27‑28, 192‑193, Taf. XXIII, XXV, 1.

27    20. Durostorum
Cameo in a gold medallion, National Archaeological Museum, Sofia, inv. 2300
two-layer sardonyx, gold; dim. 22 × 14 × 7 mm
Bibl. Dimitrova 1969, 47‑48, fig. 6; Dimitrova-Milcheva 1981, cat. 298, fig. 297; Ruseva- Slokoska 1991, cat. 130.

28    21. Durostorum
Cameo in a pair of gold earrings, National Archaeological Museum, Sofia, inv. 4595
sardonyx, gold; dim. 10 × 5 mm
Bibl. Dimitrova 1969, 48, fig. 7; Dimitrova-Milcheva 1981, cat. 303; Ruseva-Slokoska 1991, cat. 50.

29    22. Pleven, grave find
Cameo in a gold medallion, Regional Historical Museum Pleven, inv. 1175/5
two-layer sardonyx; dim. of medallion 23 × 17 mm
Bibl. Kovačeva 1973, p. 51‑52, fig. 2.

30    23. Ratiaria, grave find
Cameo in a gold medallion, Regional Historical Museum, Vidin
two-layer sardonyx; height of medallion 27 mm
Bibl. Atanasova 1971, p. 94‑95, Obr. 4.

31d) Hair is following the line of the forehead, falling down behind the ear to the end of the neck, where it is bent into a knot in the shape of a roll. The plait forming a knot is going up from the back of the head and it is fixed low on the top of the head – hairstyle characteristic for some empresses from the Severan dynasty, for example for the wife of Alexander Severus (Orbiana, 226-?).

32    24. Novae
Cameo, National Archaeological Museum, Sofia, inv. 8077
two-layer sardonyx; dim. 14,50 × 10 × 5,50 mm
Bibl. Dimitrova 1969, p. 47, fig. 4; Dimitrova-Milcheva 1981, cat. 299, fig. 298.

33    25. Viminacium, site Pirivoj, grave find
Cameo in a gold medallion, hanged on the necklace made of black glass-paste, Centre for New Technologies Viminacium, G-290
two-layer opal; dim. of medallion 27,5 × 23 mm; dim. of cameo 21,7 × 15,8 mm
Unpublished.

34    26. Brigetio
Cameo, Kuny Domokos Museum of Tata, inv. K 1965
sardonyx; dim. 24 × 15 × 7,50 mm
Bibl. Gesztelyi 2001, cat. 69.

35    27. Szigetvár
Cameo, Archaeological Museum in Zagreb, inv. 15974
onyx; dim. 22 × 12 mm
Bibl. Demo 1981, p. 321, T. III, 8.

36e) Hair is following the line of the forehead, falling behind the ear down to the end of the neck, where it is bent into a plait which is lifted up and fixed on the top of the head (Scheitelzopf-Frisur) - hairstyle characteristic for the wife of Alexander Severus (Orbiana) and Elagabalus’ wives (Iulia Paula, Annia Faustina, Iulia Aquileia Severa).

37    28. Provenance not known (Serbian part of Danube Valley?)
Cameo in a gold medallion, National Museum, Belgrade, inv. 1997/II
two-layer opal, gold; dim. of medallion 33 × 20 mm
Bibl. Popović 1989, cat. 45; Popović 1996, cat. 139.

38    29. Provenance not known
Cameo in a gold ring, National Museum, Belgrade, inv. 662/II
two-layer opal, gold; dim. 21 × 26 mm
Bibl. Popović 1989, cat. 46; Popović 1992b, cat. 24.

39    30. Romula
Cameo, National History Museum of Romania, inv. 31760
opal; dim. 17 × 13 mm
Bibl. Tudor 1958, p. 100, fig. 30; Tudor 1967, p. 207.

Pl. XI. Cameos with representation of a female bust: 19 Intercisa; 20-21 Durostorum; 22 Pleven; 23 Ratiaria; 24 Novae (I. Popović)

Pl. XI. Cameos with representation of a female bust: 19 Intercisa; 20-21 Durostorum; 22 Pleven; 23 Ratiaria; 24 Novae (I. Popović)

Pl. XII. Cameos with representation of a female bust: 25 Viminacium; 26 Brigetio; 27 Szigetvár; 28 Serbian part of Danube Valley (?); 29 unknown site; 30 Romula; 31 Viminacium; 32 Serbian part of Danube Valley (?); 33-34 Novae (I. Popović)

Pl. XII. Cameos with representation of a female bust: 25 Viminacium; 26 Brigetio; 27 Szigetvár; 28 Serbian part of Danube Valley (?); 29 unknown site; 30 Romula; 31 Viminacium; 32 Serbian part of Danube Valley (?); 33-34 Novae (I. Popović)

3. Late Severan – Period of Military Emperors, between 230 and 250 (pl. XII)

40Hair is combed in the same way as at the type e of Severan hairstyles, but these hairstyles are represented very linearly and schematically, so they can be interpreted as a bad work from the previous decades or they can be connected to the way of combing of wives of Gordianus III, Philippus the Arabian and Traianus Decius: Tranquillina (238‑244), Otacilia Severa (244‑249) and Herennia Etruscilla (249‑251).

41    31. Viminacium
Cameo, National Museum, Belgrade, inv. 1982/II multi-layer chalcedony and opal; dim. 16 × 11 mm Bibl. Popović 1989, cat. 48.

42    32. Provenance not known (Serbian part of Danube Valley?)
Cameo, National Museum, Belgrade, inv. 1947/II
two-layer opal; dim. 12 × 7 mm
Bibl. Popović 1989, cat. 47.

43    33. Novae
Cameo, National Archaeological Museum, Sofia, inv. 7936
sardonyx; dim. 17 × 10 × 5,50 mm
Bibl. Dimitrova 1969, p. 46, fig. 3; Dimitrova-Milcheva 1981, cat. 297, fig. 296.

4. Second Half of the 3rd – Beginning of the 4th Century (pl. XII-XIII)

44Hair is smoothly combed, following the shape of the head and falling behind the ears down to the beginning of the neck, where the plait starts, fixed high on the top of the head – hairstyle characteristic for Galeria Valeria (308‑311), as also for Fausta (307‑326) and Helena (327‑330) in their early period.

45    34. Novae
Cameo, National Archaeological Museum, Sofia, inv. 8078
sardonyx; dim. 12 × 10 × 5 mm
Bibl. Dimitrova 1969, p. 47, fig. 5; Dimitrova-Milcheva 1981, cat. 300.

46    35. Augusta Traiana, north-west necropolis
Cameo, Historical Museum of Stara Zagora, inv. 2-C3‑1716
two-layer onyx; dim. 23 × 15,80 mm
Bibl. Dimitrova-Milčeva 1990, Nº 26.

47    36. Cibalae
Cameo, Archaeological Museum in Zagreb, inv. 15873
onyx; dim. 19 × 12 × 7,5 mm
Bibl. Brunšmid 1902, p. 164, sl. 94. 1; Demo 1981, p. 221, T. III, 7.

48    37. Hőgyész (region of Tolna), grave 7
Cameo, Nemzeti Museum, Budapest, inv. R. 24.1895.257
two-layer sardonyx; dim. 25 × 14 × 5 mm
Bibl. Gesztelyi 2000, Nº 281.

49    38. Horreum Margi
Cameo, National Museum, Belgrade, inv. 3976/III
Two-layer agate and opal; dim. 32 × 20 mm
Bibl. Cermanović-Kuzmanović 1963, p. 119‑125; Popović 1989, cat. 49.

Pl. XIII. Cameos with representation of a female bust: 35 Augusta Traiana; 36 Cibalae; 37 region of Tolna; 38 Horrreum Margi; 39-40 Remesiana (I. Popović)

Pl. XIII. Cameos with representation of a female bust: 35 Augusta Traiana; 36 Cibalae; 37 region of Tolna; 38 Horrreum Margi; 39-40 Remesiana (I. Popović)

5. The Age of Constantine, between 317 and 325 (pl. XIII)

50Hair is falling in light waves down along the cheek and, covering the ears, at the back of the head it is gathered into a knot (Knotenfrisur) – hairstyle characteristic for Fausta in the period before and around 320.

51    39. Remesiana, tomb
Cameo in a gold medallion, hanged on a gold chain, National Museum, Belgrade, inv. 656/IV
agate and gold; dim. of medallion 27 × 18 mm
Bibl. Popović 1992a, 402‑403, Nº 2; Popović 2001, cat. 71; Srejović 1993, cat. 119; Donati, Gentili 2005, cat. 166; Popović 2009, p. 56‑61, fig. 1, 3, 5.

52    40. Remesiana, tomb
Cameo in a gold medallion, hanged on a gold chain, National Museum, Belgrade, inv. 655/IV
agate and gold; dim. of medallion 19 × 14 mm
Bibl. Popović 1992a, 402‑403, Nº 1; Popović 2001, cat. 80; Srejović 1993, cat. 119; Popović 2009, p. 56‑61, fig. 1, 2, 4.

  • 5 For the photos of cameos I am deeply grateful to Ante Rendić-Miočević, the director of Archaeologic (...)
  • 6 Eichler, Kris, 1927, p. 81.
  • 7 Bernhard-Walcher et al., 1994, cat. 165.
  • 8 The petrographical analysis of cameos from the National Museum in Belgrade was done by Prof. dr Dan (...)
  • 9 Ruseva-Slokoska, 1991, cat. 130.
  • 10 Popović, 2009, p. 57‑60, fig. 6.

53As it can be seen from the list of cameos, from 40 specimens,5 and there are, probably, even more, because the certain number of similar pieces in different museum collections is registered as objects of unknown provenance, most of them originate from the bigger urban centres, formed next to the military camps on Danube. Only the specimens Nº 8, 9, 35, 39‑40 were found somewhat more to the south: three of them in Thrace, in the thermal object Aquae Calidae, in the District of Jambol and in in the important city-centre Augusta Traiana, while two gold medallions with cameos were found in a tomb near Remesiana in Dacia Ripensis. Two cameos were found in the vicinity of the big city-centres in the south part of the valley of river Sava, in Jarak near Sirmium (Nº 14) and in Cibalae (Nº 36). Most of them, probably even 10 and maybe more cameos, were discovered in Viminacium, three were found in Novae, three, two of them inserted into the sockets of a pair of gold earrings, in Durostorum, one in Pleven, one in Ratiaria, one in Almus, one in Romula, two in Brigetio, and one in Intercisa, in the vicinity of Tolna, Szigetvár, Sirmium and Cibalae, while for the other specimens the place of find is not determined with certainity (fig. 1). On the cameos in question is depicted a female bust in profile to the left or to the right, with the summarily treated face and the hairstyle represented considerably in detail. An iconographic exception is the cameo in the gold medallion of ellipsoidal shape, on which are depicted a male and a female bust in profile (Nº 18). In the earlier literature it is treated as an object from the unknown site,6 while later it is stated that it, most probably, originates from Viminacium.7 All cameos are made of semi-precious stones, the variations of two-layer or multi-layer opal, agate and onyx,8 and their size varies between 11 × 7 mm and 32 × 20 mm. Most of these cameos (23) were kept as an amulet or preciousness, and not as a part of jewelry, while 10 of them were inserted into the cassettes made of gold tin (Nº 1, 5, 12, 15, 18, 19, 22, 23, 25, 28), to be weared as medallions on the necklaces. Three specimens were inserted into the sockets of the rings (Nº 7, 8, 29), and two into the gold earrings (Nº 21). On the lateral edge of the back side of the gold medallion from Durostorum (Nº 20) two hooks are preserved.9 This could point that it belonged to a belt, or some other part of clothes, while the lateral edges of the back side of two gold medallions with cameos from Remesiana (Nº 39, 40), one of them hanged on a short chain, are perforated, so they were used as applications on a dress, creating an original decorative set, whose reconstruction, with a qualified acceptance, we tried to explain and to represent graphically.10

Fig. 1. Spreading out of finds of cameos with representation of a female bust on Middle and Lower Danube

Fig. 1. Spreading out of finds of cameos with representation of a female bust on Middle and Lower Danube

Brigetio (10, 26), Szigetvár (27), Intercisa (19), Hőgyész, Tolna region (37), Cibalae (36), Jarak near Sirmium (14), Viminacium (1‑4?, 7, 13, 16, 17?, 18, 25, 31), Horreum Margi (38), Ratiaria (23), Almus (11), Romula (30), Pleven (22), Novae (24, 33, 34). Durostorum (20, 21), Aquae Calidae (8), Ljulin (9), Augusta Traiana (35), Remesiana (39, 40).

54Through the stylistic analysis of cameos from Middle and Lower Danube, above all, observing the hairstyle of depicted women, we came to the conclusion that, generally speaking, there are four groups of these objects. The first one consists of cameos made between 160 and 180, in the age of late Antonini, and the others are from the period of rule of Severi, while some specimens were produced in the second half of the 3rd, or in the very beginning of the 4th century. Two cameos from the period of Constantine’s rule are specimens made after the model of the best cameos from the first group, produced in the period of Marcus Aurelius.

55According to the number of discovered specimens, the workshops for production of these cameos could be located in Viminacium, Novae and Durostorum. Although, certainly, there also existed other, smaller glyptic centres. Although, according to the represented motifs they create an integral group, among certain specimens is noticeable closeness in style, while some cameos differ in style from the others. This enables us to try to determine the characteristics of certain workshops and, maybe, to locate the place of production of specimens for which the place where they were found is unknown.

  • 11 Walters, 1926, p. 211, Pl. XXV, 2016; Gramatopol, 1974, p. 88, Pl. XXXI, 660; Megow, 1987, p. 311, (...)
  • 12 Megow, 1986, Nº 7.
  • 13 Dimitrova, 1969, p. 44, fig. 2.

56The cameos Nº 1 and 2, on which the woman has a hairstyle like Faustina Minor, are of small dimensions, with a schematic and linear representation of the female face. In the entirely same style was made also the cameo Nº 3, for which in the documentation there is no precise evidence, but with great probability we assume that it was also produced in Viminacium, especially because such style of representing the face and hair does not appear on the other specimens. The cameos on which the hairstyle that were wearing Faustina Minor and Crispina, graphically modeled, are very numerous in the whole Danube region and also in many museum collections,11 but without any data about the place where they were found, so it is very hard to identify them according to the production centres. One cameo of this type was inserted into the socket on the gold ring from somewhat later period, possibly from the second half of the 3rd century, discovered in Bonn.12 For the quality of their production stand out the cameo on the gold ring from Viminacium (Nº 7), the cameo in the gold medallion from the unknown site (Nº 5), the cameo from Almus (Nº 11) and that one in the gold medallion from the unknown site in the Serbian part of Danube Valley. The cameos Nº 5, 6 and 10 show some stylistic kinship in treating the female face and hairstyle, so it can be assumed that they were produced in some centre on Danube, probably in Viminacium. By the characteristics of the depicted face and hairstyle a close analogy with the cameo from Almus (Nº 11) and also with those from Viminacium and the vicinity of Sirmium (Nº 13, 14) represents the cameo from the gold bracelet, discovered in the necropolis Bagineti in Georgia.13 But, it is hard to talk about the place of their production, although for the specimens Nº 5, 6, 7, 13, 14 we assume that they were made in Viminacium. We have noticed that women depicted on the cameos Nº 6, 11 and 13 have the same profile, i.e. that the forehead and the nose are depicted flatly, in the same line, which does not necessarily means that these cameos are the work of one artisan, although it is not impossible that the glyptic products from Viminacium have reached Almus in the east and Sirmium and Brigetio in the west and north-west. But, we can state that by the stylistic treatment of the female persons from the specimens mentioned above are different the cameos from Aquae Calidae (Nº 8) and Ljulin (Nº 9), made, possibly, in some glyptic centre in Thrace.

  • 14 Popović, 1993, p. 52, Nº 8, Pl. IV, 8.
  • 15 Krug, 1980, Nº 72.
  • 16 Krug, 1980, Nº 392.

57Most of the registered cameos (16) originate from the period of rule of the Severan dynasty and were made in the first half of the 3rd century. On the cameo in the gold medallion from the unknown site in Hungary, probably from south Pannonia (Nº 15) the woman has a hairstyle in the shape of a helmet (Helmfrisur), characteristic for the wife of Septimius Severus, Iulia Domna. The analogous specimens at the other sites on Danube are not registered, although from Viminacium originates one monetary pendant with the inserted denarius of Iulia Domna, on which the empress is wearing the same hairstyle.14 But, this is not a strong proof that in the glyptic workshop of this town were produced the cameos with the female busts which have the hairstyle of Iulia Domna. On the other hand, the woman represented on the cameo from south Pannonia is wearing the tunica gathered into folds and thrown over the shoulder, which leaves the upper part of the arm uncovered. This form of clothes is analogous to that one which is wearing the woman on the cameo in the gold medallion from the unknown site in the Serbian part of Danube Valley (Nº 28), for which we assume that it was made in Viminacium. This can, but not necessarily, point to the place of production also of the Pannonian specimen. From Viminacium comes also one cameo on which the woman is wearing the hairstyle with the knot in the shape of a roll (Nº 16), like the empress Iulia Mammaea. That specimen represents a more rustical and bad copy of the cameo from the unknown site in the Serbian part of Danube Valley (Nº 17), so we assume that this specimen, well modeled, was also made in Viminacium. The woman depicted on that cameo is wearing a transparent tunica, under which the breasts are discernible, and a cloak gathered into folds, going under the chest over to the muscle of the arm, around which it is wrapped. In the same way is dressed also the woman represented on the cameo from the recently discovered gold medallion from Viminacium (Nº 25). This points to the conclusion that both objects are the products of the same workshop, maybe even of the same artisan, although the cameo from the unknown site was, according to the hairstyle, made few years earlier. The breasts, stressed by round incisions, are clearly discernible also on the woman represented on the cameo in the gold medallion from Ratiaria (Nº 23), wearing the same hairstyle as those on the specimens 16 and 17, although, according to the treatment of clothes and hairstyle, it is a work of worse quality than the specimen Nº 17. It is interesting to mention that into the transparent tunica and cloak gathered into folds is also dressed the woman represented on the cameo from Horrreum Margi (Nº 38), which could show that it was also made in the geographically close Viminacium, although somewhat later, at the very end of the 3rd or in the first years of the 4th century. This would mean that in the Viminacium workshop for more decades the style of treating the woman’s clothes remained the same. It led to the unproportionality in representing the naked shoulder and upper part of the arm, which are more narrow than it would be expected. The women represented on the cameos Nº 16 and 17, besides that they have at the back of the head a knot in the shape of a roll, have also the hair combed from the forehead, braided into more plaits, which gives to the hairstyle the look of the melon slices (Melonenstähenenfrisur). In the same way is also combed the woman whose bust, together with the male one, appears on the cameo in the gold medallion, probably from Viminacium (Nº 18). But, by the style of execution and the iconographic solution, this cameo differs from the previous specimens. By certain details in the stylistic treatment it is close to the representation of the woman on the cameo from the grave in Intercisa (Nº 19), whose hair, combed smoothly from the forehead, is gathered above the neck into a knot in the shape of a roll. The firm features of the face, the marked profile and the strong chin separate the representation on this cameo from the female faces depicted on the cameos from Moesia. Because of that we think that it was made in some Pannonian centre, whose activity defined itself in the first years of the 3rd century, because the cameos from the late Antoninian Period in this region (Nº 5, 10, 14) do not show the stylistic aberrations from the treatment of cameos from the region of Upper and Lower Moesia. The iconographic solution analogous to that one used on the cameo from Viminacium (?), which implies the representation of a male and a female bust in profile, turned one towards the other, was also used on a cameo found in a grave in Cologne.15 But, the hairstyle that the depicted woman is wearing, is characteristic of the slightly later period, because from the knot goes the plait, fixed low on the top of the head. The hairstyle with the knot in the shape of a roll at the back of the head, that is formed by combing the hair behind the ears, are wearing the women represented on the cameos from Durostorum (Nº 20, 21), Pleven (Nº 22) and Ratiaria (Nº 23), while the similar way of treating the hair, but with the plait that goes from the knot and is fixed low at the back of the head, appears on the specimens from Brigetio and Szigetvár (Nº 26, 27). This is a way of treating the hair close to that one used on the recently discovered cameo from Viminacium (Nº 25), although there are certain differences in the treatment of the knot and plaits. The similar hairstyle, but with the stressed plaits that go down to the knot on the neck, is wearing also the woman represented on the cameo from the unknown site, today in the Römisch-Germanisches Museum Köln,16 whose characteristic is the hard style of execution. Because of this we think that it was made in some centre to the west of the workshops on Danube. On the other hand, the woman represented on the cameo from Brigetio is dressed into the cloak gathered into folds, which does not cover the right shoulder and the arm. This is not registered on other specimens, and it could also point to the activity of some Pannonian centre. The cameo on which the represented woman has a similar type of hairstyle, from Novae (Nº 24), is very rustically made, and that one from Romula (Nº 30) is executed in a hard and linear style, like somewhat later products from Novae (Nº 33, 34). Because of this we assume that from the workshop in Novae comes also the specimen discovered on the left bank of Danube, in Romula. On the other hand, the draped clothes which covers the bust up to the very neck on the cameo from Romula is represented in the same way as on the cameo from Durostorum, which can also point to the import from this workshop on the right bank to some city-centre on the left bank of Danube. The cameo in the gold medallion from the unknown site in the Serbian part of Danube Valley (Nº 28) is a very good product, maybe from Viminacium, while the representation of the woman with the hairstyle that was most often wearing the empress Iulia Paula, on the cameo from the gold ring (Nº 29), differs in style from all the up to now gathered specimens, so the provenance of this ring with cameo, coming from a private collection, is uncertain.

58The cameos Nº 31‑33, made around or after the middle of the 3rd century, are of lower quality of production, with rather schematic representation. Better modeled are the specimens Nº 34‑37 from the second half or from the end of the 3rd century. The cameo from the place Hőgyész near Tolna, in the Pannonian part of Danube Limes, represents a good work, and the depicted woman is dressed in a cloak which is thrown over next to the neck and whose folds are graphically modeled. By the treatment of the folds on the clothes, the fullness of the face and the representation of the eyes with the stressed, heavy lids, it can be compared to the cameo Nº 26 from Brigetio, made, according to the hairstyle of the represented woman, few decades earlier, which points to the activity of some Pannonian glyptic centre during few decades before and after the middle of the 3rd century. The specimen Nº 38, about which we have already spoken, represents the glyptic product of good quality, possibly from the workshop in Viminacium.

  • 17 Gnecchi, 1912, p. 22, Tav. 8. 10‑12.
  • 18 Krug, 1980, Nº 61.
  • 19 Jovanović, 1978; Popović, 2001, p. 93‑116; 236‑245; Popović, 2006/07, p. 191‑200.

59The gold medallions with cameos from Remesiana (Nº 39, 40) are the parts of some decoration on the clothes. The cameos are made in the style of the art of late Antoninian Period, and the represented women have the same hairstyle as Faustina Minor. In the period around 320 and somewhat before that, as it show the bronze medallions minted in 316‑317 in Sirmium,17 the same did also the Constantine’s wife Fausta, on the basis of which we dated these parts of jewelry into the end of the 2nd – beginning of the 3rd decade of the 4th century. The hair combed as that one which has Faustina Minor wear also three preserved of 10 female busts (personifications ?, Muses ?) on the rim of the cameo from Cologne, dated into the first half of the 4th century.18 The place of production of medallions with cameos from Remesiana stays unknown to us, although in the nearby Naissus is registered an intensive work of goldsmithing-toreutic workshops,19 but in that region are not registered any finds of cameos with the female busts from the earlier period.

  • 20 Vomer-Gojkovič ,1992, p. 59, 102, nr. 63; Vomer-Gojkovič, Žižek, 2008, p. 73, e.

60The stylistic analysis of cameos with the representation of the female bust in profile, observed together with the place where they were found, shows that they were produced in the workshops located in the civilian settlements next to the military camps on Danube Limes. We can follow the activity of the workshop in Viminacium in the period from 160- 180 until the first years of the 4th century. The works of the workshop in Novae are confirmed with certainty from the 2nd-3rd decade until the end of the 3rd century, while that one in Durostorum is best confirmed by the products from the period around 220‑230, when, maybe, was also active the workshop in Ratiaria. The activity of some Pannonian workshops is still uncertain, although stylistic kinship in treating the female face with full cheeks and stressed eyes on cameos from Viminacium (Nº 25), Brigetio (Nº 26), Szigetvár (Nº 27), Cibalae (Nº 36) and from the site Hőgyész near Tolna in Pannonia (Nº 37), can point that these products are the work of different artisans from the Viminacium workshop, and not of the particular centre in south Pannonia. On the other hand, the finds of cameos from Bonn, Cologne, castellum Niederbieber and the other sites in the vicinity of the Rhine Limes point that in the local workshops in the settlements next to the military camps were produced, in the smaller measure indeed, the cameos iconographically analogous to those from the workshops on Danube, although linear and of lower quality of production. On the other hand, the cameo with the representation of the female bust from Poetovio20 in Upper Pannonia is stylistically differrent from the already mentioned cameos from the Danube Valley, and the woman represented three quarters en face does not have the hairstyle characteristic for some of the Antoninian-Severan empresses, so we can not observe it in the context of cameos with the propagandistic message.

  • 21 Megow, 1986, p. 475, nr. 9; Gesztelyi, 2001, p. 23‑24.
  • 22 Dimitrova, 1969, p. 46‑47.
  • 23 Hannestadt, 1988, p. 259‑260, fig. 158.
  • 24 Megow, 1986, p. 475, nr. 9.

61As we have already mentioned, the list of cameos with the representation of the female bust shows the great concentration of these finds in the civilian settlements next to the military camps on Danube, which, mostly, originate from the late Antoninian and Severan Period. These conclusions bring us to the problem which was already treated in the scientific literature, to which type of portraits belong these representations, i.e. do these portraits represent the empresses or the private persons. In the modern literature prevails the opinion that the represented women are the private persons, because they do not wear any imperial attributes or insignia.21 An exception is the cameo from Novae (Nº 33), on which the represented woman is wearing over the tunica a cloak, whose wide edges are ornamented with the incised crossed lines. This could represent the garment of the empresses, decorated with the gold embroidery on the wide edges of the dress,22 which can be noticed also on the representation of the cloak of the wife of Septimius Severus, Iulia Domna, on the wooden tondo from Egypt.23 But, the problem of the identification of the represented female figures on the mentioned cameos, in our opinion, is in close connection with the historical circumstances in certain periods and with the imperial political-propagandistic programs. We have already noticed that the mass- production of cameos of this type begins at the time of rule of late Antonini and Severi. The answer to the question why this happened at this time could be found in the fact that at first Marcus Aurelius and after him Septimius Severus have transgressed the earlier established rule that the emperors through the principle of adoption do not appoint their successor from the group of their descendants. These two emperors by proclaiming their sons their successors tried to establish their dynasties based on consanguinity. Because of that the wives, the mothers of the future emperors, had a special role. The representations on the cameos are probably the models of these empresses, whose characteristic feature was the specific hairstyle. As the features of the face of the represented women mainly lack any individual characteristics, we believe that they were made on the basis of the models-cardboards with the representations of the empresses, which were in circulation in the workshops along the Danube-Rhine Limes. Evidence of this is a rather unskillfully produced cameo from the castellum Niederbieber,24 on which is represented a woman in the clothes represented in the similar way as on the specimens of higher quality from Viminacium (Nº 17, 25) and Ratiaria (Nº 23), produced few decades earlier. Of course, this does not mean that the distinguished women from the urban centres on Danube did not comb their hair according to the fashion dictated by the empresses, but we do not believe that the figures on the cameos represent individual portraits, but a sort of the prototype of the figure of the empress.

  • 25 Mirković, 1971, p. 33.
  • 26 Mirković, 1986, p. 48.
  • 27 Tudor, 1958, p. 456.
  • 28 Popović, 1993, p. 52, Nº 8, Pl. IV, 8.

62The next question, in close connection with the previous one, is why the cameos with the representation of the female bust were mass-produced during the mentioned period in the workshops in the civilian settlements next to the military camps on Danube. We have to keep in mind that Marcus Aurelius, during whose time started the production of these cameos, used to stay very often in Sirmium, while he was personally waging the hard wars on the Danube border with Quadi, Marcomanni and Sarmatians.25 The provinces on Danube became very important for the defence of the Empire, and because of their strategic position they came into the focus of the imperial propaganda politics. After the death of Commodus and a short civil war, the military troops from the Danube regions proclaimed Septimius Severus the emperor. He had, as also did his son and heir Caracalla, visited the cities on Danube, appropriating large sums of money for their reconstruction, and, as it show the written sources and epigraphic monuments, the rich citizens from these centres were giving to the public treasury the great amounts of money on the occasion of their elections for the civil, military or sacerdotal functions.26 For the cities in Lower Dacia, on the left bank of Danube, this was also the period of peace and prosperity.27 In any case, the cities on Danube during the rule of the emperors from the dynasty of Severi have experienced strong economic rising, and the part of population became rich. These phenomena were, surely, followed by the strong propaganda of the emperors who enabled prosperity to these centres. Because of this it is not surprising that precisely here took place the mass-production of cameos with the representation of the female bust, the prototype of empress, mother of the future emperor, or the prototype of his wife. Within the framework of such dynastic politics, the figures on the cameo in the gold medallion, possibly from Viminacium (Nº 18), can be explained as the symbolical representations of Alexander Severus and his wife Iulia Mammaea. Anyway, as we have already mentioned, in Viminacium was discovered also a monetary pendant, made of denarius of Iulia Domna, under Severus, minted between 196 and 211 in Rome, and inserted into a gold frame.28 On the averse of the coin was represented the bust of the empress, and on the reverse the busts of Septimius Severus and Caracalla, which is, also, a gesture of dynastic propaganda.

  • 29 Brenot, Metzger, 1992, p. 348‑352.
  • 30 The pendant with the denarius of Caracalla, minted in Rome in 199‑200, and inserted into the gold f (...)
  • 31 Aubin et al., 1999, p. 149‑152.
  • 32 To the conclusion about the same role of cameos with the female busts and of the monetary pendants (...)

63The third question, related to the production of cameos with the female bust, is connected to the appearance of monetary jewelry and its depositing. Namely, it has been stated that the jewelry with the inserted coins in the west provinces of the Empire, and in the first place in Gaul, appears in masses in the hoards whose deposition can be dated into the period since the beginning of the rule of Septimius Severus, and that on these decorations in almost the same quantity were used the coins of the emperors from the dynasties of Antonini and Severi.29 The monetary pendants are in the Danube region very rare,30 and the mentioned specimen from Viminacium is, as far as we know, the only one with the direct dynastic message, which is on the coins minted in 201‑202 a very frequent theme.31 The question is asked why on the Middle and Lower Danube these pendants almost do not exist, while in Gaul there is a great number of them, and, on the other hand, in the Danube region is flourishing the production of cameos with the representation of the female bust, which in the West almost do not exist. Are these two sorts of precious objects equivalent in their propagandistic meaning,32 and if they are, why are the finds from one group, the monetary pendants, concentrated in the west provinces, while the finds from the other group, the cameos with the representation of the female bust, are most numerous in Danube Valley? The answer to this question is elusing and maybe it can partly be found in the fact that the monetary pendants with the coins of the emperors from the dynasty of Antonini and Severi have been found in Gaul mainly in the hoards created at the time of hiding the valuable things in front of the barbarian incursions, while the cameos from the Danube Valley are mainly from the graves from the period when in this region no greater aggressions from the outside were felt, but, on the contrary, this was a period of peace and prosperity.

  • 33 Seston, 1946, p. 45, 54, 132‑133.
  • 34 Stein, 1968, p. 79.

64The number and quality of cameos of this type is declining rapidly at the end and after the rule of the emperors from the dynasty of Severi, to which bear witness the specimens made in the linear style from Novae (Nº 33) and Viminacium (Nº 31), while the representation on the cameo from the unknown site in the Serbian part of Danube Valley (Nº 32) is extremely schematic. Graphically modeled and somewhat more skillfully executed are the cameos found in Novae (Nº 34), Augusta Traiana (Nº 35) and from a grave at the site H gyész near Tolna (Nº 37). Although the lower parts of the face on the cameo from Augusta Traiana (Nº 35) are very damaged, its stylistic closeness to the cameo from Novae (Nº 34) is being noticed, which is best seen in the treatment of the plait in the form of a bow, fixed on the top of the head. It is possible that the find from the centre Augusta Traiana in Thrace came from the workshop in Novae. But, for the quality of its production stands apart the cameo from Horreum Margi (Nº 38), the city-centre on the river Morava, for which we assume that it was made in the neighboring Viminacium. The woman represented on it is wearing the hairstyle characteristic for Galeria Valeria, Diocletian’s daughter and wife of his caesar Galerius. Diocletian finally established his rule in 286, after the victory over Carinus in the battle which took place on the river Morava. In 293 he married his daughter Valeria to the caesar Galerius, with whom from 293 to 297 he fought hard battles on Danube against Carpi and Bastarnae, taking measures to reconstruct the military camps on Danube.33 Establishing the Tetrarchy as a new ideological-propagandistic program in the Empire, augusti and caesars became the representatives on Earth of Jupiter and Hercules, i.e. the members of the divine family Iovii-Herculii. The successors of augusti were becoming caesars nominated by them, and not their own sons. The role of a wife in this system is becoming important again, because she is becoming an adoptive mother of the future augustus. Diocletian even married his daughter to his adoptive son Galerius, so it is not surprising that the prototype of the figure of this empress appears on the cameo made, probably, in Viminacium, and found in Horreum Margi, in the region where Diocletian won the war and finally came to power and where, together with caesar Galerius he succeeded in defending the Danube border of the Empire from the barbarian attacks. Because the woman represented on the cameo from the site Hőgyész near Tolna (Nº 37) in the province, Valeria has the same type of hairstyle as that one from Horreum Margi, we think that this is also the prototype of the empress Galeria Valeria, although because of the damaged nose and lower parts of the face it is hard to define the stylistic characteristics of the representation. But, as it was found in the province named after this empress, where Galerius used to stay very often, fighting the wars against Sarmatians and Marcomanni and taking economic measures like draining the land around the lake Balaton,34 this identification seems to us very possible.

  • 35 Sena Chiesa, 2005, p. 195‑197, fig. 10.
  • 36 Hannestad 1988, p. 325.

65After raising of Constantine to power, the production of cameos experienced its new flourishing. The big, luxuriously executed specimens were made, modeled in the style of the classical Roman art, which were in function of propagating and legalizing his rule, and also of demonstrating the new system, the dynastic principle according to which the sons succeeded to the emperor and to which bears witness in the best way the representation of Constantine, his wife Fausta and their sons on the so-called Ada cameo.35 Victory over Licinius in the battle at Cibalae in 316 enabled Constantine to come to power in the Balkan provinces of the Empire, and the cities Serdica and Naissus, between which lies Remesiana in which were discovered two cameos in gold medalllions (Nº 39, 40), are becoming the places which he is visiting frequently, strategically important for his final countdown with Licinius, that happened in 324, when he won the battle at Chrysopolis in Thrace. So, it is not surprising that in this region the activity in the field of his dynastic propaganda is very intensive, which can explain the production of cameos with the prototype of the figure of his wife Fausta, combed like Faustina Minor, the wife of Marcus Aurelius, who was in his opinion one of «good emperors» and as whose legitimate successor he wanted to represent himself.36

66This contribution about the cameos with the representation of the female bust from the sites on Middle and Lower Danube is an attempt to point not only to their numerousness and stylistic unity, but also to recognize the role of these objects in the context of the historical events and the social changes that took place in the Roman society from the end of the 2nd until the first decades of the 4th century.

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Krug, A., 1980, Antike Gemmen im Römisch-Germanischen Museum Köln, Bericht der Römisch-Germanischen Kommission, 61, p. 152‑260.

Megow, W. R., 1986, Kameen im Rheinischen Landesmuseum Bonn, Bonner Jahrbücher 186, p. 457‑486.

Megow, W. R., 1987, Kameen von Augustus bis Alexander Severus, Berlin.

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Popović, I., 1989, Les camées romains au Musée national de Belgrade / Rimske kameje u Narodnom muzeju u Beogradu, Beograd.

Popović, I., 1992a, Kameje iz kasnoantičke zbirke Narodnog muzeja u Beogradu (Les Camées de la Collection antique tardive du Musée national de Belgrade), Zbornik Narodnog muzeja (Beograd), XIV/1, p. 401‑410.

Popović, I., 1992b, Les bijoux romains du Musée national de Beograd. I Les bagues / Rimski nakit u Narodnom muzeju u Beogradu. I Prstenje, Beograd.

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Popović, I., 1996, Les bijoux romains du Musée national de Belgrade. II Les bijoux d’or / Rimski nakit u Narodnom muzeju u Beogradu. II Zlatan nakit, Beograd.

Popović, I., 2001, Late Roman and Early Byzantine Gold Jewelry in National Museum in Belgrade / Kasnoantički i ranovizantijski nakit od zlata u Narodnom muzeju u Beogradu, Beograd.

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Annexe

Résumé long en français

Lors de la campagne de fouille 2006 une tombe maçonnée de la nécropole romaine de Viminacium a livré un camée monté sur médaillon en or (nº 25). Taillé dans une opale bicouche — blanche sur fond bleu clair — et de forme ovale, son relief représente un buste féminin tourné de profil vers la gauche. Par son aspect il vient se ranger dans un groupe de 40 camées semblables provenant de plusieurs sites de la moyenne et basse vallée du Danube, tous réalisés à partir de pierres semi-précieuses (opale, onyx ou agate) et ornés de bustes féminins tournés de profil, vers la droite ou vers la gauche. Cette ornementation offre le plus souvent des visages aux traits schématisés, alors que les coiffures font en revanche l’objet d’une réalisation plus soignée où l’on reconnaît les différentes modes dictées par les impératrices de la dynastie des Antonins et des Sévères. Ce détail permet une répartition chronologique de ce matériel dont la production est plus intensive entre 160 et 180, puis entre 200 et 230 ; les plus nombreux étant ceux au visage féminin coiffé comme les impératrices de la dynastie des Sévères, groupe auquel appartient le camée découvert dernièrement à Viminacium. C’est d’ailleurs de ce même site que provient le plus grand nombre de ces parures (10), ce qui, si l’on y ajoute les trouvailles semblables provenant de Mésie Inférieure, pourrait suggérer que les principaux ateliers ayant assuré leur réalisation se trouvaient à Viminacium, Novae et Durostorum, alors que quelques centres glyptiques moins importants devaient aussi fonctionner en Thrace et en Pannonie.

La répartition géographique des camées avec représentation de buste féminin (pl. IX-XIII) montre une forte concentration de ces trouvailles dans les agglomérations urbaines associées à des camps militaires situés sur le Danube (fig. 1) et, pour la plupart, érigés vers la fin de la dynastie des Antonins ou sous celle des Sévères. Apparaît ainsi la question, déjà traitée à plusieurs reprises : convient-il de reconnaître dans ces images des représentations d’impératrices ou de personnages féminins privés. De ces deux possibilités, c’est la seconde qui est le plus souvent retenue par les auteurs contemporains en l’absence de tout attribut ou insigne impérial associé à ces figures. Or, il nous semble que la réponse pourrait se trouver dans l’étude de circonstances spécifiques à certaines périodes et notamment dans l’examen des programmes de propagande politique impériaux. La production massive de ces camées coïncide avec la fin du règne des Antonins et celui des Sévères. Marc-Aurèle, puis Septime Sévère, ont enfreint la règle voulant qu’à travers le principe de l’adoption les empereurs renoncent à choisir leurs successeurs parmi leurs proches descendants. En nommant leurs propres fils comme successeurs, ces deux empereurs ont tenté d’instaurer une dynastie reposant sur une parenté de sang. Dans ces circonstances, leurs épouses et impératrices, en tant que mères des futurs empereurs, se sont vu conférer un rôle spécifique. Des modèles représentant les impératrices devaient alors être en circulation dans les ateliers situés le long du limes danubo-rhénan ; les sculpteurs des camées ont pu s’inspirer de ces modèles, en insistant sur le trait distinctif de la coiffure alors que les visages étaient le plus souvent privés de caractères individuels.

La seconde question, étroitement liée à la précédente, est de savoir pourquoi les camées avec représentation de buste féminin connaissent une production massive aux périodes indiquées, et ce précisément dans des ateliers situés dans des agglomérations urbaines associées à des camps légionnaires situés le long du Danube. Marc-Aurèle, sous le règne duquel commence leur production, a mené en personne de durs combats sur les frontières danubiennes contre les Quades, les Marcomans et les Sarmates. Le cours des événements le voit alors séjourner à plusieurs reprises à Sirmium, tandis que les provinces danubiennes, désormais investies à cause de leur position stratégique d’un rôle essentiel dans la protection de l’Empire, font l’objet d’une attention plus particulière de la propagande impériale. Quelque temps plus tard, au lendemain de la mort de Commode et après une brève guerre civile, cette région joue à nouveau un rôle de premier plan lors de la proclamation du nouvel empereur, Septime Sévère, par les troupes militaires qui s’y trouvent cantonnées. En retour, ce dernier, tout comme, après lui, son fils et successeur Caracalla, ne manqueront pas de se rendre dans les villes de la vallée du Danube, en accordant d’importants subsides pour leur rénovation, tandis que, comme nous l’apprennent les sources narratives et les monuments épigraphiques, les riches citoyens de ces même centres urbains versaient d’importantes sommes dans les caisses de l’Etat lors de leur réélection à des fonctions civiles, militaires ou sacerdotales. Il apparaît donc que les villes de la vallée du Danube connaissent sous le règne des empereurs de la dynastie des Sévères un réel essor économique dont bénéficie largement une partie de la population, situation à laquelle s’ajoutent les effets d’une forte propagande impériale. Il n’est donc pas étonnant que ce soit précisément dans ces derniers lieux qu’apparaît la production massive des camées avec buste féminin figurant un prototype de l’impératrice, mère du futur empereur.

La troisième question soulevée par la production des camées avec buste féminin est en relation avec l’apparition d’un type de parures monétaires réalisées sous forme de pendentifs et la thésaurisation de ceux-ci. En l’occurrence on ne s’explique pas pourquoi ces pendentifs, si fréquents en Gaule, sont quasiment absents sur le Moyen et le Bas-Danube, alors qu’à l’inverse, ces deux dernières régions voient fleurir la production de camées, à leur tour, quasiment inconnus en Occident. Est-ce que ces deux types d’objets précieux étaient équivalents par leur signification en terme de propagande, et si oui, pourquoi les trouvailles concernant le premier de ces groupes — les pendentifs monétaires — sont concentrées dans les provinces occidentales, alors que celles concernant le second groupe — les camées avec buste féminin — sont les plus nombreuses sur la vallée du Danube ? Pour l’instant cette question manque toujours d’une réponse précise, peut-être pourrait-elle être partiellement recherchée dans la situation militaire et économique : les pendentifs avec monnaies des Antonins et des Sévères proviennent de Gaule, pour la plupart, de dépôts formés à une époque où l’on enfouit les objets précieux à l’approche de menaces, entre autres barbares ; alors que les camées de la moyenne et basse vallée du Danube appartiennent principalement à un mobilier funéraire datant d’une époque où cette région ne connaît pas de fortes menaces venant de l’extérieur, mais au contraire une période de paix et de prospérité.

La production de camées avec buste féminin décline après la fin de la dynastie des Sévères. Les exemplaires 39 et 40, trouvés dans une tombe de la nécropole de la ville de Remesiana en Dacie Méditerranéenne, appartiennent à l’époque du règne de Constantin et offrent tous deux une représentation de femme coiffée à l’image de l’impératrice Fausta, laquelle portait assurément vers 320 une coiffure semblable à celle de Faustine, épouse de Marc-Aurèle. Or on sait justement que, tenant ce dernier pour un « empereur brave », Constantin entendait se présenter comme son successeur légitime. Il pourrait donc s’agir là d’un argument supplémentaire en faveur de l’hypothèse selon laquelle les camées avec représentation de buste féminin auraient pu jouer un rôle significatif en matière de propagande impériale.

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Notes

1 I am grateful to dr Miomir Korać, the director of the scientific project Viminacium, for enabling me an insight into the field documentation.

2 Popović, 1996, cat. 139‑142 (with analogies).

3 Dimitrova, 1969, p. 43‑50; Dimitrova-Milcheva, 1981, p. 19‑20; Popović, 1989, p. 9‑12; 51‑54.

4 Wegner, 1938, Abb. 2, 4; Wegner, 1939; Wessel, 1946/47, 62‑76, Abb. I-VI.

5 For the photos of cameos I am deeply grateful to Ante Rendić-Miočević, the director of Archaeological Museum in Zagreb (Nº 14, 27, 36), to Snežana Gorjanova (Nº 22, 23, 35) and Pavlina Ilieva (Nº 8, 11, 20, 21, 24, 33, 34) from the National Archaeological Museum in Sofia, to Tamás Gesztelyi from the Debrecin University (Nº 5, 10, 15, 26, 37) and Christina Stribulescu from the National History Museum of Romania in Bucarest (Nº 30). The photos of cameos Nº 1‑4, 6, 7, 12, 13, 16, 17, 28, 29, 31, 32, 38‑40 are from the documentation of the National Museum in Belgrade.

6 Eichler, Kris, 1927, p. 81.

7 Bernhard-Walcher et al., 1994, cat. 165.

8 The petrographical analysis of cameos from the National Museum in Belgrade was done by Prof. dr Danilo Babić, while the informations about the sort of stone from which the other specimens were made we took over from the existing literature.

9 Ruseva-Slokoska, 1991, cat. 130.

10 Popović, 2009, p. 57‑60, fig. 6.

11 Walters, 1926, p. 211, Pl. XXV, 2016; Gramatopol, 1974, p. 88, Pl. XXXI, 660; Megow, 1987, p. 311, Taf. 46. F 9.

12 Megow, 1986, Nº 7.

13 Dimitrova, 1969, p. 44, fig. 2.

14 Popović, 1993, p. 52, Nº 8, Pl. IV, 8.

15 Krug, 1980, Nº 72.

16 Krug, 1980, Nº 392.

17 Gnecchi, 1912, p. 22, Tav. 8. 10‑12.

18 Krug, 1980, Nº 61.

19 Jovanović, 1978; Popović, 2001, p. 93‑116; 236‑245; Popović, 2006/07, p. 191‑200.

20 Vomer-Gojkovič ,1992, p. 59, 102, nr. 63; Vomer-Gojkovič, Žižek, 2008, p. 73, e.

21 Megow, 1986, p. 475, nr. 9; Gesztelyi, 2001, p. 23‑24.

22 Dimitrova, 1969, p. 46‑47.

23 Hannestadt, 1988, p. 259‑260, fig. 158.

24 Megow, 1986, p. 475, nr. 9.

25 Mirković, 1971, p. 33.

26 Mirković, 1986, p. 48.

27 Tudor, 1958, p. 456.

28 Popović, 1993, p. 52, Nº 8, Pl. IV, 8.

29 Brenot, Metzger, 1992, p. 348‑352.

30 The pendant with the denarius of Caracalla, minted in Rome in 199‑200, and inserted into the gold frame, is from the unknown site, probably in the Serbian part of Danube Valley, while the pendant with the aureus of Alexander Severus, minted in Rome in 222 and inserted into the gold frame, comes from a private collection in which are collected coins from the different countries, cf. Popović, 1993, p. 51‑53, Nº 7, 9, Pl. III, 7, 9. The specific case is a necklace from the hoard in Nikolaevo, on which is hanged the pendant with the aureus of Caracalla, minted in 215 and inserted into the frame made of gold tin, decorated with semi-preciouss stones. As this hoard contains different valuable objects and coins from which the youngest one is that of Philippus the Arabian from 249, its deposition happened during or after the middle of the 3rd century, cf. Ruseva-Slokoska, 1991, cat. 98.

31 Aubin et al., 1999, p. 149‑152.

32 To the conclusion about the same role of cameos with the female busts and of the monetary pendants points the composition of the necklace from the site Naix-aoux-Forges in Gaul, which consists of the gold tubuli separated by aurei of Hadrian, Septimius Severus, Caracalla and Geta in the richly decorated gold frames, as also two cameos with the female busts, also in the gold frames. According to the monetary part of the hoard to which the necklace belonged, the treasure was deposited in the sixth or seventh decade of the 3rd century, cf. Brenot, Metzger, 1992, p. 328, Nº 35 (with bibliography).

33 Seston, 1946, p. 45, 54, 132‑133.

34 Stein, 1968, p. 79.

35 Sena Chiesa, 2005, p. 195‑197, fig. 10.

36 Hannestad 1988, p. 325.

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Table des illustrations

Titre Pl. IX. Cameos with representation of a female bust: 1-2 Viminacium; 3-4 Viminacium (?); 5 south Pannonia, north Balkans (?); 6 Serbian part of Danube Valley (?); 7 Viminacium; 8 Aquae Calidae; 9 Ljulin; 10 Brigetio; 11 Almus; 12 Serbian side of Danube (?) (I. Popović)
URL http://journals.openedition.org/pallas/docannexe/image/11032/img-1.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 340k
Titre Pl. X. Cameos with representation of a female bust: 13 Viminacium; 14 Jarak; 15 south Pannonia (?); 16 Viminacium; 17 Serbian part of Danube Valley (?); 18 Viminacium (?)(I. Popović)
URL http://journals.openedition.org/pallas/docannexe/image/11032/img-2.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 336k
Titre Pl. XI. Cameos with representation of a female bust: 19 Intercisa; 20-21 Durostorum; 22 Pleven; 23 Ratiaria; 24 Novae (I. Popović)
URL http://journals.openedition.org/pallas/docannexe/image/11032/img-3.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 376k
Titre Pl. XII. Cameos with representation of a female bust: 25 Viminacium; 26 Brigetio; 27 Szigetvár; 28 Serbian part of Danube Valley (?); 29 unknown site; 30 Romula; 31 Viminacium; 32 Serbian part of Danube Valley (?); 33-34 Novae (I. Popović)
URL http://journals.openedition.org/pallas/docannexe/image/11032/img-4.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 356k
Titre Pl. XIII. Cameos with representation of a female bust: 35 Augusta Traiana; 36 Cibalae; 37 region of Tolna; 38 Horrreum Margi; 39-40 Remesiana (I. Popović)
URL http://journals.openedition.org/pallas/docannexe/image/11032/img-5.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 264k
Titre Fig. 1. Spreading out of finds of cameos with representation of a female bust on Middle and Lower Danube
Légende Brigetio (10, 26), Szigetvár (27), Intercisa (19), Hőgyész, Tolna region (37), Cibalae (36), Jarak near Sirmium (14), Viminacium (1‑4?, 7, 13, 16, 17?, 18, 25, 31), Horreum Margi (38), Ratiaria (23), Almus (11), Romula (30), Pleven (22), Novae (24, 33, 34). Durostorum (20, 21), Aquae Calidae (8), Ljulin (9), Augusta Traiana (35), Remesiana (39, 40).
URL http://journals.openedition.org/pallas/docannexe/image/11032/img-6.png
Fichier image/png, 497k
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Ivana Popović, « Roman cameos with female busts from Middle and Lower Danube »Pallas, 83 | 2010, 203-224.

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Ivana Popović, « Roman cameos with female busts from Middle and Lower Danube »Pallas [En ligne], 83 | 2010, mis en ligne le 01 octobre 2010, consulté le 21 janvier 2021. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/pallas/11032 ; DOI : https://doi.org/10.4000/pallas.11032

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Auteur

Ivana Popović

Research Director, Archaeological Institute, Belgrade, Serbia
ivpop[at]eunet.rs

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