Greek gilded silver incuse ring, based on a rare coin, c. 3rd-1st century BC
A silver-gilt finger ring with an incuse intaglio design of a lion-griffon or chimaera with raised foreleg and looped tail, standing on an ear of corn, based on a very rare Scythian style 4th century BC coin from the Greek outpost of Panticapaeum (like this example) in the Tauric Chersonesus. The legend contains the inscription ΠAN (Pan) surrounding the beast.
Panticapaeum (‘the garden of Pan’) was founded around 600 BC by colonists from Miletus looking to gain access to the raw materials and agricultural wealth that flowed through the area. The region became an important source of grain, gold and other trade goods, and was a marketplace for Greek art. The artistry on Scythian coins is distinctive because it combines the traditions of nomadic, Greek and Near-Eastern cultures. It is imbued with a vitality and fierceness unlike Classical and early Hellenistic art, which had abandoned the Archaic style in favor of idealized beauty. The griffin appears on other forms of Scythian art, which is often found in royal tombs. Sometimes the creature has horns and other times it has a row of spines along its head and neck that are connected by webbing.