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Studies in Ancient Art and Civilization 2013, nr 17


Joachim Śliwa
Magical amulet from Paphos with the ιαεω- palindrome

Studies in Ancient Art and Civilization 2013, nr 17
rok 2013, vol. 17; str. 293-301
DOI: 10.12797/SAAC.17.2013.17.24
 
Keywords: Amulets; ancient magic; Harpocrates; Osiris; palindromes; Paphos

During the first excavation campaign of the Paphos Agora Project (3rd July – 6th August 2011), an interesting object was discovered. In Trench II, Area 2 (Room 5), in the upper, late Roman layer, an oval amulet was found (siltstone, 39.41 x 41.32 x 4.81mm). The layer is dated to the 6th century AD, partially due to the presence of ceramic objects of the Cypriot Red Slip Ware type (Hayes form 2, AD 450-550). The obverse of the amulet contains a schematic, simplified figure of a sitting Harpocrates and below the mummy of Osiris in a boat, as well as depictions of animals (a crocodile, a rooster and a snake) and symbolic astrals (a half-moon and a star). On the reverse, however, an eight-line text of the so-called ιαεω- palindrome, consisting of 59 letters of the Greek alphabet, was carved. According to the current state of knowledge, it was translated in the following way: “Yahweh is the bearer of the secret name, the lion of Re secure in his shrine”. Both the depiction and the text carved into the surface of the amulet clearly indicate the influence of the Orient and the context of solar ideas; the object may be dated to the 5th-6th century AD.


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