An Umayyad period magical amulet from a domestic context in Jerash, Jordan

New publication by John Møller Larsen, Achim Lichtenberger, Rubina Raja and Richard L. Gordon.

2016.12.06 | Christina Levisen

Photo: Danish-German Jerash Northwest Quarter Project.

Larsen, J.M., Lichtenberger, A., Raja, R. & Gordon, R.L. (2016). An Umayyad period magical amulet from a domestic context in Jerash, Jordan. Syria: Archéologie, Art et Histoire, 93, 369-386.

Abstract

During the 2014 campaign of the Danish-German Northwest Quarter Project in Jerash a small metal capsule was found in a house destroyed by an earthquake in the mid-8th cent. ce. The capsule, which retained traces of textile fibres, was conserved and proved to contain a tightly-rolled strip of silver foil (lamella) which, on removal, turned out to be inscribed with letters of Semitic character. Since it could not be unfolded manually, it was submitted to computed tomography and ‘unfolded’ digitally by means of special software. This article presents the lamella and its capsule as well as the archaeological context, a private house sealed by an earthquake in the mid-8th cent. ce on the eastern terrace of the Northwest Quarter in Jerash. The lamella, which also contains a few charaktêres (magical signs), is interpreted as a magical amulet, which stands in a Semitic and Greco-Roman tradition but in this case surely stems from the Umayyad period.

History and archaeology, Publication