Enamel on gold rings were apparently very popular throughout the empire. But what makes this ring so rare is that it is connected with an illustrious Byzantine citizen. Around the hoop is an engraved inscription in Greek that reads, “Mother of God, help thy servant, Michael Attaleiates.”

Michael Attaleiates was a jurist and historian, who came to Constantinople about 1034. He was an important individual, who held various important positions in the imperial court and was rewarded with some of the highest honours available to public servants. It is thought that he died some time around 1080.

If we briefly focus on the ring, we can see on the bezel is a bust of the Virgin in enamel in pink, green and blue. Its craftsmanship is said to be second to none, made by a ‘fully mastered’ Byzantine artist.

Photo credit: The image of the Ring of Michael Attaleiates is courtesy of Dumbarton Oaks. I make use of it under the rational of fair use for educational purposes, to highlight an amazing historical object from Byzantium. Dumbarton Oaks are the copyright holders of the image.

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