Friday, November 18, 2022

Mystery amulet from Amastris

NORTHWEST SEMITIC (?) EPIGRAPHY: Unique ancient Egyptian amulet seal discovered during archeological excavations in northern Turkey (ArkeoNews).
During archaeological excavations in the ancient city of Amastris in the Amasra district of northern Turkey’s Bartın, an enchanted amulet stamp seal thought to belong to the ancient Egyptians was discovered.


“We see that there is a figure depicting the god Bes, whom we know from the Egyptian religion, depicted with incised lines at the base of the work. On the upper part of the work, we see that there are letter characters and talismanic words from the ancient Egyptian religion called demotic. The letter characters on the work probably represent this meaning of protection. As a kind of talismanic object, we can define it as an object that a person wears to be protected from evil and diseases or in whatever sense he wants to be protected. We can say that it is the only example of its kind found from the Roman layer in Anatolia during excavations,” Fatma Bağdatlı Çam said.

I don't know Demotic, so take my view with caution, but the inscription sure looks like Phoenician to me. The Egyptian god Bes was widely known outside of Egypt, so his iconographic presence is not an obstacle to a Phoenician origin. The city is Roman-era and this is the sort of object that could easily travel around.

The object is broken and the inscription is incomplete, but I see גתני. (.gtny) on the front face and .מ (m.) on the left side. (The dots are unreadable bits of broken letter. The letter after the mem could be an ’aleph.) There is not enough text to make any sense of it.

I have looked briefly at Demotic scripts and this looks more like Phoenician to me. It is a formal script. It looks early, certainly long before the Common Era. Again, such objects often became heirlooms and traveled around, so it isn't surprising to have it turn up in a Roman-era stratum.

That's my preliminary assessment, but I await the judgment of specialist epigraphers and am happy to be corrected. Christopher Rollston, call your office?

Cross-file under Phoenician Watch (?).

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