c. 500 BC
Overall: 5.8 x 2.3 cm (2 5/16 x 7/8 in.)
Purchase from the J. H. Wade Fund 1985.49
A sphinx combines the body of a winged lion with the head of a woman.
Amber, a form of fossilized tree resin, was much prized in the ancient Mediterranean world, perhaps due to its mysterious luminosity, fragrance, and magnetism. It was often carved into figures or heads of humans, animals, or mythical creatures. Small perforations on this sphinx suggest that it may once have been mounted, perhaps for use as a pendant. Although now opaque and crackled due to age, in antiquity the surface probably exhibited some degree of translucence, a valued attribute for amulets and ornaments.
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