Temporary exhibitions

« Antiquity in miniature »

Cameos and intaglios – Collections of Leo Merz and the Roman Museum of Avenches

Dates : 13.06.2008 - 12.11.2008


The Roman Museum of Nyon has presented a rich collection of gemstones put together last century by the Bernese jurist Leo Merz and bequeathed to the University of Bern. This exhibition was originally prepared by Lilian Raselli and was devoted to the cutting of semi-precious stones in Antiquity in the form of numerous cameos and intaglios (embossed or engraved). Gemstones set in rings as seals, incorporated into ornate finery or worn as amulets represented the most precious of private possessions. These objects of value were also the stuff of daily life in Roman Helvetia, as can be seen from the large numbers of intaglios discovered in excavations on the site of Avenches that enhanced the 2007 exhibition of the Roman Museum of Avenches.

The abundance of themes (gods, heroes, portraits of emperors or private individuals, magical images, scenes from mythology or animals) is offset by an astounding quality of detail. Art-lovers have not been disappointed by this iconographic medium – the tiniest ever invented by man.

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