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Abstract

This chapter surveys ‘magical gems’: semi-precious stones inscribed during the Roman period that concentrate the power of stone, color, jewelry, and performative words, images, and signs. These materials are discusses in three contexts: formal characteristics (text, images, and signs), structural characteristics (material, engraving, and shape), and function (amulets, gems, jewels, and seals). The chapter also analyses these gems as manifestations of both ancient tradition and a new technology. Finally, the re-use of ancient gems after Antiquity and the history of publication of major corpora of gems are addressed.

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