Beryl intaglio with portrait of Julia Domna

Period: Mid-Imperial, Severan

Date: ca. A.D. 200–210

Culture: Roman

Medium: Beryl

Dimensions: H. 15/16 in. (2.4 cm)

Classification: Gems

Credit Line: Fletcher Fund, 1925

Accession Number: 25.78.90


Julia Domna was the wife of the Emperor Septimius Severus (A.D. 193–211) and the mother of Caracalla (A.D. 211–217) and his ill-fated younger brother Geta (A.D. 211–212). The empress came from Syria and introduced a distinct eastern influence into the Roman ruling elite. It was largely through her Syrian relatives that the Severan dynasty was able to continue in power until A.D. 235. Her portrait was widely copied and distributed as part of the propaganda campaign of her ambitious family.