Paper Status Tracking
Contact us
[email protected]
Click here to send a message to me 3275638434
Paper Publishing WeChat


University of São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil


This article aims to make a brief presentation on the elements of material culture in the ancient Palestinian region, mainly coins, which were removed from their production context and placed in funerary contexts (coins were often buried in graves), thus converted in amulets, acquiring magical and apotropaic senses. We will use examples verified in different parts of the Roman Empire, as in Pithekússai (modest island, which is in the Italian Peninsula), on the banks of the Thames, in Celtic contexts, more specifically in the current city of Lezoux, France, in the ancient city of Aquincum, present day Budapest, also in Tel Maresha and Tiberias, present-day Israel, to demonstrate how these practices were recurrent throughout the Empire. It is also our intention to observe iconographic elements that bring apotropaic content in their formulations, because, in addition to the role that coins could play in connecting the worlds of men and gods, many people believed that they had the power to project magical and apotropaic strength through images powerful that they portrayed.


archaeology, material culture, amulets, coins, numismatic, magical elements, apotropaic elements, Roman Empire, Roman Palestine

Cite this paper

Vagner Carvalheiro Porto. (2020).Material culture as Amulets: Magical elements and the Apotropaic in Ancient Roman World. Philosophy Study, 10(8), 492-502.


Albright, W. F. (1920). The goddess of life and wisdom. The American Journal of Semitic Languages and Literatures, 36(4), 258-294.

Alfayé, V. S. (2010). Nails for the dead: A polysemic account of an ancient funerary practice. In R. Gordon and F. M. Simón (Eds.), Magical practice in the Latin West (pp. 427-456). Leiden, Boston: Brill.

Ammerma, R. M. (2002). The sanctuary of Santa Venera at Paestum. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press.

Bąkowska-Czerner, G. (2015). Elements of Gnostic concepts in depictions on magical gems. The Polish Journal of the Arts and Culture, 13(1), 23-39.

Belayche, N. (2017). Cults in contexts in the Hellenistic and Roman Southern Levant: The challenge of cult places. In O. Tal and Z. Weiss (Eds.), Expressions of cult in the Southern Levant in the Greco-Roman period (pp. 3-21). Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols Publishers.

Bivar, A. D. H. (1993). Achaemenid coins, weights and measures. In The Cambridge history of Iran (Vol. 2, p. 635). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Bruyn, T. S., & Dijkstra, J. H. F. (2011). Greek amulets and formularies from Egypt containing Christian elements: A checklist of papyri, parchments, ostraka, and tablets. The Bulletin of the American Society of Papyrologists, 48, 163-216.

Budge, E. A. W. (2001). Amulets and magic. London: Kegan Paul.

Campbell, J. (1976). The masks of god: Occidental mythology. New York: Penguin.

Cline, R. H. (2019). Amulets and the ritual efficacy of Christian symbols. In W. R. Caraher, T. W. Davis, and D. K. Pettegrew (Eds.), The Oxford handbook of early Christian archaeology (pp. 1-18). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Cunningham, A. (1881). Relics from Ancient Persia in gold, silver, and copper. Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, 50, 167.

Daviau, P. M. M. (2014). The coroplastics of transjordan forming techniques and iconographic traditions in the Iron Age. In S. M. Langin-Hooper (Ed.), Figuring out the figurines of the ancient near East: Occasional papers in coroplastic studies 1 (pp. 1-12). Association for Coroplastic Studies.

De Tarragon, J. (1995). Witchcraft, magic and divination in Canaan and ancient Israel. In J. M. Sasson (Ed.), Civilizations of the ancient Near East (pp. 2071-2081, at 2079). NY: Charles Scribner’s Sons.

Ecker, A. (2017). People and gods in the cities of Roman Palestine: A preliminary inquiry into the popularity of civic cults. In O. Tal and Z. Weiss (Eds.), Expressions of cult in the Southern Levant in the Greco-Roman period (pp. 61-67). Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols Publishers.

Eshel, E. (2017). Divination texts of Maresha―Archeology and texts. In D. Small and S. Itzhaq (Eds.), Archaeology and text: A journal for the integration of material culture with written documents in the Ancient Mediterranean and Near East (Vol. 1, pp. 7-26). Bethlehem, Pa.: Lehigh University Press.

Florenzano, M. B. B. (1995). Notes on the representation of monsters on Greek coins. Revista do Museu de Arqueologia e Etnologia, 5, 223-234.

Florenzano, M. B. B. (1999). Notes on the imagery of Dionysos on Greek Coins. Revue Belge de Numismatique, 145, 37-48.

Florenzano, M. B. B. (2005). Coins and religion: Representations of Demeter and Kore-Persephone on Sicilian Greek Coins. Revue Belge de Numismatique et de Sigillographie, 151, 1-29.

Frey, A. R. (1917). A dictionary of numismatic names. New York: American Numismatic Society.

Fulghum, M. (2001). Coins used as amulets in late antiquity. In S. R. Asirvatham, C. O. Pache, and J. Watrous (Eds.), Between magic and religion (pp. 139-147). Oxford: Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield.

Geller, M. J. (2010). Ancient Babylonian medicine. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell.

Golding, W. R. J. (2013). Perceptions of the serpent in the ancient Near East: Its Bronze Age role in apotropaic magic, healing and protection (Master of Arts in the subject Ancient Near Eastern Studies, University of South Africa, 2013).

Goodenough, E. R. (1965). Jewish symbols in the Greco-Roman period. New York and Toronto.

Gorini, G. (1978). La piece comme blason ou talisman. Diogène, 76-97.

Grabka, G. (1953). Christian viaticum: A study of its cultural background. Traditio, 9, 1-43.

Grinder-Hansen, K. (1991). Charon’s fee in Ancient Greece? Acta Hyperborea, 3, 215.

Grummond, N. T., & Simon, E. (2006). The religion of the Etruscans. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press.

Guerra, T. (2017). Encountering evil: Apotropaic magic in the Dead Sea scrolls (Theses of Doctorate, Department of Theology and Religion, University of Birmingham, 2017).

Jayne, W. A. (1962). The healing gods of ancient civilizations. New York: University Books.

Josephus, F. (1997). The Jewish war. (H. St. Thackeray, Trans.). London: Harvard University.

Josephus, F. (1998). Jewish antiquities. (R. Marcus, Trans.). London: Harvard University.

Josephus, F. (2001). Life of Josephus. (S. Mason, Trans.). Leiden: Brill.

Kloner, A. (2003). Maresha excavations final report I: Subterranean complexes 21, 44, 70. Jerusalem: Israel Antiquities Authority.

Kotansky, R. (1991). Two inscribed Jewish Aramaic Amulets from Syria. Israel Exploration Journal, 41(4), 267-281.

Mccully, S. E. (2016). Sacred shields: The material, religious, and cultural significance of Persian Ashkelon’s Egyptianizing Amulets (Thesis submitted to the faculty of Wesleyan University, 2016).

Mees, B. A. (2010). Gaulish prayer for vengeance on a lamella from Lezoux. Celtica, 26, 48-65.

Meshorer, Y. (1985). City-coins of Eretz-Israel and the Decapolis in the Roman period. Jerusalem: Israel Museum.

Michal, Î. (2009). Coins in graves as reflection of social and spiritual culture. In V. Smrčka and P. L. Walker (Eds.), Social history and anthropology (pp. 111-121). Prague, Charles University: Karolinum Press.

Miller, S. (2011). The Mosaics of Tiberias and Hammat Tiberias during the Roman, Byzantine and Early Islamic Periods (Thesis submitted for the degree of M. A. Institute of Archaeology, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 2011).

Morris, I. (1992). Death-ritual and social structure in classical antiquity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Negev, A., & Gibson, S. (2001). Archaeological encyclopedia of the holy land. New York and London: Continuum.

Németh, G. (2005). A magic silver lamella from Aquincum. In G. Németh (Ed.), Politai: Studies in Greek social history and epigraphy (pp. 63-67). Debrecen: Hungarian Polis Studies.

Németh, G. (2013). Coins in Water. Acta Classica Univ. Scient. Debrecen, 49, 55-63.

Petrie, W. M. (1972). Flinders amulets. Surrey: Biddles.

Pliny the Elder, C. (1855). Histoire naturelle de Pline. Paris: Librairie de Firmin Didot.

Porto, V. C. P. (2007). Imagens monetárias na Judéia/Palestina sob dominação romana (Doctoral thesis, Museu de Arqueologia e Etnologia, Universidade de São Paulo, São Paulo, 2007).

Rowan, C. (2009). Slipping out of circulation: The after-life of coins in the Roman World. Journal of the Numismatic Association of Australia, 20, 3-14.

Salzman, M. R. (2017). Aurelian and the cult of the unconquered sun: The institutionalization of Christmas, solar worship, and imperial cult. In O. Tal and Z. Weiss (Eds.), Expressions of cult in the Southern Levant in the Greco-Roman period (pp. 37-49). Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols Publishers.

Smith, W. (1873). Dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology. Retrieved from

Stevens, S. T. (1991). Charon’s obol and other coins in ancient funerary practice. Phoenix, 45(3), 215-229.

Szilágyi, J. (1950). Jelentés a Fővárosi Ókortörténeti (Aquincumi) Múzeum kutatásairól és szerzeményeiről az 1945-1948. Budapest Régiségei, 15, 305-321.

Taylor, R. (2008). The moral mirror of Roman art. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Thompson, R. C. (1903). The devils and evil spirits of Babylonia (Vol. 1). London: Luzac.

Tsetskhladze, G. R. (2001). North pontic archeology: Recent discoveries and studies. Leiden, Boston: Brill.

Van Buren, E. D. (1934). The God Ningizzida. Iraq, 1(1), 60-89.

Van Buren, E. D. (1935-1936). Entwined serpent. Archiv für Orientforschung, 10, 53-65.

About | Terms & Conditions | Issue | Privacy | Contact us
Copyright © 2001 - David Publishing Company All rights reserved,
3 Germay Dr., Unit 4 #4651, Wilmington DE 19804; Tel: 1-323-984-7526; Email: [email protected]