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E01322: Inscribed gem and glass amulet with the names of the Archangels *Michael (S00181) and *Raphael (S00481). Possibly Christian. Found in Salamis/Constantia (Cyprus). Probably Roman imperial or late antique periods.

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posted on 30.04.2016, 00:00 by pnowakowski
Gem:

An oval gem (calcined agate) with a low-relief of a head to the left. Designed to be set in a ring or a seal. The inscription runs from left to right on the lower margin. First transcribed by Archibald Sayce.

Ἰάω, Μιχ[αήλ]

'Iao, Michael'

Text: Salamine de Chypre XIII, no. 405.

The gem was inscribed with the names of Michael the Archangel and God as Iao (one of the Greek renderings of the name of God, frequently used in magical texts by Jews, Christians, and pagans). Sayce considered it to be a gnostic amulet.

Glass amulet:

A rectangular blue glass amulet with oblique corners, found in 1877 in a tomb at Salamis by Alessandro Palma di Cesnola.

Ἰάω,
Μιχ-
αὴλ,
Ῥαφ-
αήλ

'Iao, Michael, Raphael'

Text: Salamine de Chypre XIII, no. 414.

Palma di Cesnola describes this object as probably a part of a protective necklace, worn by a child. He associated it with gnosticism, just like the gem.

It is obvious that such gems and pieces of glass were used as protective amulets (phylakteria), and worn by their owners. Various kinds of stones were credited with different magical properties and selected regarding the desired effect. However, this kind of charm could be equally well used by Christians, Jews, and pagans, and there is no reason to associate the owners with gnosticism.

Dating: There is no reliable method to date these objects, as they were very popular in the Roman and late antique period.

History

Evidence ID

E01322

Saint Name

Michael, the Archangel : S00181 Raphaēl, the Archangel : S00481

Saint Name in Source

Μιχαήλ Ῥαφαήλ

Type of Evidence

Inscriptions - Inscribed objects Images and objects - Rings and seals Images and objects - Other portable objects (metalwork, ivory, etc.) Literary - Magical texts and amulets

Language

Greek

Evidence not before

1

Evidence not after

800

Activity not before

1

Activity not after

800

Place of Evidence - Region

Aegean islands and Cyprus

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Salamis

Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)

Salamis Salamis Σαλαμίς Salamis Salamis Farmagusta Far Κωνσταντία Konstantia Constantia

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Prayer/supplication/invocation

Cult Activities - Miracles

Other miracles with demons and demonic creatures

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Children Demons

Cult Activities - Cult Related Objects

Other

Source

Both the gem and the glass amulet were first published in 1882 by Alessandro Palma di Cesnola (transcription of the gem inscription by Archibald Sayce), together with a number of similar objects, that could not be associated with the Christian religion. All of them were found in Cyprus, during the excavations supervised by the Palma di Cesnola brothers. Now probably in the Cesnola Collection in the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York).

Bibliography

Edition: Gem: Pouilloux, J., Roesch, P., Marcillet-Jaubert J. (eds.), Salamine de Chypre XIII Testimonia Salaminia 2. Corpus épigraphique (Paris: Diffusion de Boccard, 1987), no. 405. Palma di Cesnola, A., Salaminia (Cyprus): the history, treasures, & antiquities of Salamis in the island of Cyprus, with an introduction by Samuel Birch (London: Whiting & Co., 1884, 2nd ed.), 152, no. 52. Glass amulet: Pouilloux, J., Roesch, P., Marcillet-Jaubert J. (eds.), Salamine de Chypre XIII Testimonia Salaminia 2. Corpus épigraphique (Paris: Diffusion de Boccard, 1987), no. 414. Palma di Cesnola, A., Salaminia (Cyprus): the history, treasures, & antiquities of Salamis in the island of Cyprus, with an introduction by Samuel Birch (London: Whiting & Co., 1884, 2nd ed.), 175.

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