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Unlocking the Past: 2,000-Year-Old Hologram Ring Reveals Face of Woman’s Departed Son

A Roman “hologram” effect ring found in the grave of 1st century AD noblewoman, Aebutia Quarta. The ring is thought to depict her son, Titus Carvilius Gemello, who passed away at age of 18. Found at the Grottaferrata necropolis close to Rome Representations carved into stone have a long history. From Roman busts to Victorian cameos, […]

A Roman “hologram” effect ring found in the grave of 1st century AD noblewoman, Aebutia Quarta. The ring is thought to depict her son, Titus Carvilius Gemello, who passed away at age of 18. Found at the Grottaferrata necropolis close to Rome

Representations carved into stone have a long history. From Roman busts to Victorian cameos, stone likenesses capture those who were loved and lost. Cameos in particular are a wearable reminder of loved ones or tributes to mythical figures and great leaders. Crafted since ancient days, they can be made out of a variety of materials. One exceptional first century CE example, discovered on the hand of a woman in a Roman tomb, is crafted of gold and rock crystal. However, rather than being carved into the outer face of the stone, the shockingly realistic cameo depiction of the woman’s deceased son is carved behind the stone creating a “hologram” of life lost.



The ring belonged to Aebutia Quarta, a Roman noblemwoman. Her tomb is known as the Hypogeum of the Garland. Discovered in Italy in the year 2000 at the Grottaferrata site, it also contains the remains of her son Carvilius Gemellus. Both sets of remains were covered by floral garlands, hence the name of their tomb. The son clearly died shortly before the mother at the young age of 18. His body is remarkably well preserved, and indicates death from either an injury or poisoning.

On the mother’s finger was found a gold and quartz ring befitting of her high social statement. Currently, the ring is held in the Museo Archeologica Nazionale di Palestrina in Italy. It features a gold band set with a cabochon of rock crystal. Behind that seems to glow a holographic face, that of Aebutia’s son, buried nearby. Unlike a traditional cameo which is carved in bas-relief, the figure here is carved on the back of the stone into its volume to create the life-like 3D illusion. This token was likely created after the son’s death and before his mother’s as a reminder of her beloved and a token of grief. Today, the ring is a symbol of craftsmanship, grief, and love.



This ancient ring, created in the 1st century CE, immortalizes a woman’s deceased son in a clever rock crystal cameo “hologram.”