Wednesday, May 26, 2021

A Talmudic-era amulet

APOTROPAIC ARTIFACT: Amulet against ‘evil eye’ offers look at Jewish life in Talmudic Israel. The artifact was uncovered some 40 years ago in the village of Arbel in the Galilee by one of its first resident, late Tova Haviv (Rossella Tercatin, Jerusalem Post).
Shaped as a triangle, on one side the pendant features the figure of a rider whose head is surrounded with a halo riding a horse. The rider is depicted in the act of throwing a sphere at a female figure on the ground, surrounded by the inscription in Greek reading “The One God who Conquers Evil.” Under the horse, the Greek letters I A W Θ appear, the equivalent of Jewish divine name of Y-H-W-H. The opposite side of the object presents an eye pierced by arrows and surrounded by dangerous animals – two lions, a snake, a scorpion and a bird – as well as another Greek inscription reading “One God.”
This is a remarkable artifact. See the article for a photo.

The IAA seem fully confident of the amulet's authenticity. Like many of our ancient amulets, this one was not found in a controlled excavation. There is a family tradition of its discovery forty years ago, but few details have been released. Perhaps predictably, I would like to see more information about the discovery and the authentication.

I have not seen the original press release. The only other coverage of the story I have seen so far is by the Jewish Press: 40 Years after Discovery, IAA Receives Ancient Amulet Bearing the Sacred Tetragrammaton. It has additional details and better photographs.

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