Intaglios: Imprints of Identity

Now Open

Intaglios and seals were personal items used as a means of identification in the ancient world. Whether employed as plain seals or worn as jewellery, these inscribed gems when pressed into wax or clay authenticated legal and administrative documents, both identifying their owner and protecting their owner’s identity. 

The material, style, and artistic quality of intaglios could also signify one’s identity in terms of class, political status, kinship, and religious affiliations. Intaglios could also embody the owner of the seal or the image represented on the seal. Religious imagery, magic, and apotropaic symbols featured frequently on intaglios as a means of personal protection. As such, intaglios are highly personal items and speak to broader themes of status and identity in the ancient world. 

This exhibition explores the importance of personal identity and identity protection in the ancient world through the assemblage of intaglios and seals in the RD Milns Antiquities Museum’s collection.

Curated by Brianna Sands and Josephine Carroll-Walden