The rare Armenian artifact displayed in the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston
The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Massachusetts (MFA Boston), owns a rare artifact: a red jasper intaglio with the profile head of the Armenian king Tigranes II the Great, facing left. He wears the Armenian tiara with five spikes/peaks rendered by two pellets, a larger topped by a smaller. The entire crown is outlined with round dots. On the tiara, an eight-pointed star with a central circle is flanked on either side by birds (possibly eagles), facing outward but turning their heads back towards the central star. Two flaps also outlined with dots extend from underneath the tiara, covering his hair and ear.
By 1900 the intaglio was purchased by the American archaeologist and collector Edward Perry Warren, according to his records, in Smyrna. A year later, it was acquired by the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.
Tigranes II, more commonly known as Tigranes the Great (140 – 55 BCE), was King of Armenia, under whom the country became the most vital state to Rome’s east. He was a member of the Artaxiad Royal House. Under his reign, the Armenian kingdom expanded beyond its traditional boundaries, allowing Tigranes to claim the title of Great King and involving Armenia in many battles against opponents such as the Parthian and Seleucid empires and the Roman Republic.
The phrase “sea to sea Armenia” (Armenian: ծովից ծով Հայաստան) is a popular expression used by Armenians to refer to the kingdom of Tigranes which extended from the Caspian Sea to the Mediterranean Sea.
It’s worthy of mention that the MFA houses two silver tetradrachms and a drachm with the bust of Tigranes the Great.