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Over the centuries, they became more ornate and were made of precious materials such as silver, ivory, mother-of-pearl or tortoiseshell.

On July 12, Gorny & Mosch in Munich is selling this particularly fine example made of gold with enamel inlays. The four sides are decorated with relief panels of four deities: Mercury, Minerva, Victory and Dionysus or Apollo, each framed with bands of enamel.

The 3in (7cm) casket can be dated to the Roman imperial period of the 1st to 3rd century. It has been consigned by a Bavarian collector and is expected to bring €20,000.