Gold ring with movable circular box-bezel decorated with a griffin


British Museum

British Museum
London, United Kingdom

Although cities such as Athens were rich in the fifth century BC, Greek gold jewellery of this period is rare: perhaps surplus gold was scarce in the private sector or sumptuary laws restricted the offering of gold jewellery in the tomb. Whatever the reason, because so little gold jewellery of the period survives, rings such as this are particularly important. This ring was made in about 500 BC and is the earliest known example of a box-bezel ring, though this form of ring was to become popular in the fourth century BC. The drum-like circular box-bezel is free to rotate on the gold rod hoop. On one side is a plain wire rosette, on the other a chased depiction of a griffin, skilfully rendered to fit the circular form precisely. Across the griffin is the inscription DAMO, written in reverse. This is probably a shortened form of DAMOU, Doric Greek for 'of the people'. Both the direction of the script and the inscription suggest that the ring was an official seal. The ring is large, and was probably designed to be worn by a man.


  • Title: Gold ring with movable circular box-bezel decorated with a griffin
  • Date Created: -500/-500
  • Physical Dimensions: Diameter: 2.70cm; Diameter: 2.20cm (inner); Length: 1.50cm (bezel); Height: 0.60cm; Weight: 9.72g; Width: 2.80cm (of hoop)
  • External Link: British Museum collection online
  • Technique: engraved
  • Subject: griffin
  • Registration number: 1866,0504.57
  • Place: Excavated/Findspot Corfu
  • Period/culture: Greek
  • Material: gold
  • Copyright: Photo: © Trustees of the British Museum
  • Acquisition: Bequeathed by Woodhouse, James

Get the app

Explore museums and play with Art Transfer, Pocket Galleries, Art Selfie, and more


Google apps