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Études

More on the Tradition of Amulet Pattern-Books
in Post-Ancient Copies?

Michael Zellmann-Rohrer
p. 187-201

Résumés

Publication d’une feuille de papyrus de la période byzantine ou islamique provenant d’Égypte et consistant en un assemblage complexe de dessins rituels et de texte grec. L’analyse des éléments constitutifs de cet assemblage permet de proposer une interprétation de son contexte de composition, à savoir l’intérêt continu, aux périodes tardives, pour la tradition des amulettes grecques. Plus précisément, l’auteur de la compilation pourrait avoir consulté des formulaires pour l’élaboration de multiples amulettes en forme de gemme, ou des copies directes de celles-ci. Dès lors, le papyrus pourrait s’inscrire dans un contexte comparable à celui du « livre de modèles » sur plaque en cuivre récemment étudié par C.A. Faraone dans cette revue (2017). Une explication alternative, à savoir celle d’une amulette composite, est aussi envisagée.

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Texte intégral

I thank Todd Hickey (Berkeley) for bringing this text to my attention and communicating the results of his autopsy of the papyrus in 2015, and two anonymous readers of Kernos for criticisms on the presentation. All remaining errors are my own.

Introduction

  • 1 C.A. Faraone, “A copper plaque in the Louvre (inv. AD 003732): composite amulet or pattern-book f (...)

1In an article in this journal in 2017, C.A. Faraone advanced an interpretation of a copper plaque with amuletic text and designs as a pattern book for the making of amulets, altered and updated with an Arabic text in the course of production in Islamic Egypt in the eighth or ninth century CE.1 The formulae and images, paralleled in earlier Greek amulets, belong to contiguous but contradictory aims, healing of disease and more general protection, and the object will have been too large and heavy to be worn on the human body. Hence, a pattern-book, perhaps to be hung on the wall of the gem-cutter’s shop. The textual formulae, deformed over successive phases of copying, include two images of the Egyptian deity Chnoubis as lion-headed serpent both on and off a pedestal, one giving his name, Χνουβι, and perhaps a third in the form of a staff grasped by a human figure. The as yet undeciphered Arabic inscription gives, according to Faraone’s suggestion, nonsense words as further material for inscription on amulets in the pattern book, and two non-phonetic signs, resembling inverted Greek omega, can also be discerned in this portion.

  • 2 “Rorschach test”: J.G. Keenan, “[Review of] The Oxyrhynchus Papyri, Volume LVIII”, BASP 29 (1992) (...)

2It is the purpose of the present note to publish another text from Egypt of roughly contemporary date. This text may provide a further illustration of the sort of continued circulation of and interest in ancient amuletic formularies in early medieval times that Faraone has identified in the Louvre plaque, or in collection and copying of the amuletic objects themselves. The new document is a sheet of papyrus with a shakily drafted and chaotic assemblage of image and text. The difficulties of interpreting such material in the absence of accompanying internal exegesis is well known — one scholar has characterized it as “dangerously close to submitting [oneself] to a public Rorschach test” —, and furthermore the present papyrus might be dismissed at first sight as a modern sham.2 An argument will be advanced here, however, that it may in fact be analyzed as a re-purposing, late- or post-ancient but still pre-modern, of authentic ancient material.

A reflection of amulet pattern-books?
Dublin, Chester Beatty Library Cpt 2177.82

  • 3 Even if suspension were admitted, it need not indicate a finished amulet (see further below) as o (...)

3The document in question is a nearly complete sheet of papyrus, 16.3 cm in height and 31.4 cm in width, inscribed in a red-brown ink on one side (Figs. 1–2). The back is blank; both sides show traces of earlier, washed out text. A horizontal sheet-join (kollesis) runs along the bottom edge on the front. The pattern of surface-damage, particularly thin cracks running lengthwise along the fibers, indicates folding along the horizontal axis, at least once roughly at center, and possibly twice more approximately half-way between the center and the top and bottom edges. Additional, more rectangular holes around the central third could also suggest a single fold along the vertical axis at center, as their location would match punctures made after folding. The relatively rough edges of all such holes suit chance better than intentional punctures, for example to receive a cord for suspension, but the latter possibility cannot be entirely excluded.3 The disposition of the ink with respect to the damage in any case contributes to bolstering the authenticity of the document: as holes and breaks in the edges coincide with gaps in the inked design, we probably do not have to do with a modern forger who began with a blank or effaced sheet from antiquity.

  • 4 The Cpt of the shelfmark stands for Coptic; the large and miscellaneous lot Cpt 2177 to which thi (...)
  • 5 Cf. e.g. P.Laur. IV 141 with G. Cavallo, H. Maehler, Greek Bookhands of the Early Byzantine Perio (...)
  • 6 The presence of charakteres (on which see below) is not diagnostic, as these are already well att (...)

4The papyrus was uncovered presumably in illicit excavations in Egypt at an unknown site; it was acquired by Chester Beatty in 1957, and arrived in Dublin in 1960 via the British Museum.4 The inscription contains textual elements, but these are dispersed within a complex visual design, which can only be reproduced in a drawing, then analyzed, as is done in the following, rather than properly edited. The small sample of Greek letterforms, which provide one basis for dating, should not be pressed too hard given the idiosyncratic quality of the hand, but would be consistent with a date as early as the fifth century,5 though a range of several centuries later cannot be excluded. The copying of an exemplar of that period at a date as late as that of the Louvre plaque is indeed possible. The generally crude style of the drawing may point towards that later period.6

Analysis: amulet or pattern-book?

5The design could be taken at first for the sort of assemblage of non-phonetic ritual signs (charakteres) that made up entire amulets and other finished products of magical formularies in the later Roman and Byzantine periods, as witnessed in the Greek and Coptic magical papyri. This possibility is first considered in its own right, before the other, in the author’s view more plausible, option of a pattern book is introduced.

  • 7 Among papyri see e.g. PGM XVIIc and XXVa; among metal amulets, the silver lamella from fourth-cen (...)
  • 8 P.Heid. inv. Kopt. 679, ed. P.Bad. V 142, line 15: ⲥϩⲁⲓ ⲡⲓⲍ(ⲱⲇⲓⲟⲛ) ⲙⲛⲛⲓⲫⲩ(ⲗⲁⲕⲧⲏⲣⲓⲟⲛ); see also A. (...)
  • 9 P.Vind. R 7 (G 2309), ed. PGM P XLIX, undated; U. Horak, in C.Illum.Pap. I p. 248 no. ViP 217, te (...)
  • 10 P.Berl. P 8329, ed. BKU I 15: ⲡϭⲱⲡⲉ ⲛⲡⲃⲉⲗ and ̅̅ ̅̅ ̅̅; W. Beltz, “Die koptischen Zauberper (...)

6Amulets or other textual finished products of magical rituals consisting entirely or largely of signs and drawings are found to some extent among Greek documents.7 The format comes into its own in Coptic-language documents from Byzantine and medieval Egypt. A fine example is an eleventh-century Coptic formulary recipe with instructions on the front of a paper sheet to inscribe “this figure (the Greek loanword zodion) and these amulets (phylakteria)”, which proves to be a complex of figural images, charakteres in the form of letters of the alphabet with ringed termini, and magical words, beginning on the front and taking up the entirety of the back (Fig. 3).8 Two further examples may be mentioned, on a smaller scale and of a less complex design lacking figures: a small strip of parchment inscribed with charakteres and a single sequence of letters, of apparently Byzantine date;9 and a somewhat larger sheet of parchment probably intended as an amulet, as it was found rolled up, with four lines of letter-like signs, upside-down with respect to a line of syntactic Coptic referring to “the seizing of the (evil?) eye” and the divine name Jesus Christ, perhaps of the eighth century.10

7While the charakteres do play a prominent part in the composition of the Dublin papyrus, further analysis of four constituent motifs, a figural drawing (§ 1), Greek text (§ 2), the charakteres (§ 3), and some abstract inked designs (§ 4), reveals at the very least a more complex process of composition in which multiple sources, including inscribed magical gems alongside formularies or pattern-books, probably figured. If an amulet, its design would have been unusually complex, more multiply determined than the simple copying from an exemplar usually envisioned.

Figural drawing (Figs. 4–5)

  • 11 Gems: Bonner, SMA; Greek papyri: for a recent publication with iconographic discussion, P.Eirene (...)
  • 12 Lion-headed serpent: e.g. M. Henig, Classical Gems: Ancient and Modern Intaglios and Cameos in th (...)
  • 13 Faraone, l.c. (n. 1), p. 261–264.
  • 14 Knm(t), generally listed first among the decans and portrayed with a snake’s body, later conflate (...)
  • 15 Helios: Michel, BM, no. 266 (CBd-97); Harpocrates: Michel, BM, no. 120 (CBd-520); Pantheos: Mastr (...)
  • 16 Striations: Mastrocinque, BnF, no. 253 (CBd-332); elongation: e.g. Michel, BM, no. 317 (CBd-703).
  • 17 C. Andrews, Amulets of Ancient Egypt, London, 1994, p. 82–83.

8Seen at top center of the sheet as currently mounted, perpendicular to the vertical axis, is a human head, crowned with rays, some terminating in rings, and a halo, and resting on a hatched pillar. Figural representations are a well-known feature of magical texts of the Graeco-Roman period on gems and papyrus, continuing also into Coptic.11 The present figure recalls the serpent with rayed lion’s head, sometimes resting on an altar or ritual chest, commonly depicted on magical gems12 and also to be identified in the Louvre pattern book as shown by Faraone,13 a deity probably to be identified with Chnoubis, one of the Egyptian decans.14 Here the lion head will have been replaced with a human one, perhaps under the influence of depictions on gems of Helios, Harpocrates, and the so-called Pantheos, sometimes shown frontally with rays on gems, but the presence of frontal in place of profile orientation may be one further sign of post-ancient production.15 The snake’s body, suggested here by the horizontal striations, seen also on the Chnoubis serpent, which can be quite elongated,16 and the altar have been merged into a single rectangular element, possibly suggested also by the motif of the Egyptian djed pillar, the form of which served in turn as an amulet in its own right.17 While the entire figure may originally have been anthropomorphic, such an interpretation would require a not much less radical transformation in the form of the removal of both arms and legs.

Text (Figs. 6a–b, 7a–b)

  • 18 Henig, o.c. (n. 7), p. 227 no. 500 (CBd-104): lion-headed serpent with text Χνουβις in mirrored w (...)

9The design includes groups of Greek letters of which sense can be made in syntactical Greek, to be distinguished from the isolated letters probably equal in force to the non-phonetic signs, or charakteres, discussed below (§ 3). The letters in question are in partially mirrored writing, which provides additional support for authenticity, as the initially illegible result would have offered little appeal to a modern forger. The presence of partially mirrored writing may have resulted from one of two factors. The letters may have been copied directly from an exemplar already in mirrored writing, then partially altered. In this case, that exemplar was probably a gem, where this disposition is occasionally found even on magical gems,18 or a pattern book for producing such gems. Mirrored writing is lacking in lamellae and papyrus amulets. The second possibility is copying from an impression of a gem in a soft material such as clay, as a convenient intermediate means of making a record quickly. Both possibilities are discussed further in the concluding section on the context of production.

  • 19 Among papyrus amulets, e.g. Suppl.Mag. I 13.5, and among gems, e.g. F.M. Schwartz and J.H. Schwar (...)
  • 20 Bonner, SMA, no. D57 = Mastrocinque, BnF, no. 417 (CBd-1308).
  • 21 See in general e.g. Suppl.Mag. I 9.14; only one instance on a gem is known, a jasper with an invo (...)

10A (Fig. 6a–b). Near what is now the bottom edge, there may be a writing of the invocation βοήθει. This imperative would appear in the form βοή̣θη or βοε̣̣θη. The Β runs in the natural writing direction; the first Η if so read presents some difficulty, requiring the placement of the crossbar on the wrong side, perhaps under the influence of the mirrored writing encountered elsewhere in the composite (see below), unless the group is read as ΕΙ instead with an unusually rectilinear form of Ε also in the natural writing direction; the crossbar of Θ does not extend the full width and is partly obscured by a surface crack. The initial Β should not be confused with a charakter derived from ring-termini added to an Ι due to its context among other Greek letters showing no such treatment, though it may have been imitated among nearby charakteres (see Fig. 8). Either form would amount to a phonetic spelling of βοήθει “help,” a verb common in invocations on amulets,19 including at least one gem, where, also in mirrored writing, it is addressed to the goddess Nemesis (Νέμεσι βοήθει).20 To the left of that, that is, to the right in the natural writing direction, it would be possible to make out three further letters as ἤτη, a phonetic spelling for the ἤδη commonly used to express urgency in invocations, though the word is unusual on magical gems.21 These letters, however, could also be classed among the non-phonetic signs, discussed in § 3 below.

  • 22 Θωθ: Bonner, SMA, nos. D361 (CBd-1263) and D247 (CBd-1426) = Mastrocinque, BnF, no. 127 (CBd-1426 (...)
  • 23 Rings: O.M. Dalton, Franks Bequest: Catalogue of the Finger Rings, early Christian, Byzantine, Te (...)

11B (Fig. 7a–b). In two lines on either side of the figure described in § 1, we read: i) either ευομ̣ or ευοι̣ω̣, in mirrored writing except for υ in the natural writing direction; and ii) τοθ̣ (reading horizontally and taking the traces of a circular letter as θ, with a further, unconnected τ beneath) or τοτ (reading diagonally to include the τ beneath and excluding the former traces). To the right of these groups (in the mirrored direction) stands a cluster of letters roughly in four lines, for which no division into sense-units emerges, and which are therefore to be taken as magical words: ηηθ | ηεληθ | θη | λλ. This context would be suitable for the identification of magical words in i) and ii) as well, though neither is precisely paralleled in this respect. Instead, in ii) either τοθ̣ or τοτ recalls an imprecise transliteration of the Egyptian divine name Thoth, more commonly met as Θω(ου)θ,22 despite the phonetic difficulties, only partly resolved by supposing yet another direction-shift to θ̣οτ at the price of further practical complications. If not a magical word coined ad hoc, ευομ̣ in ii) might represent an anagram of an underlying ἐμοῦ, which would in turn fit syntactically as object of βοήθει in § 2.A, a construction paralleled in invocations on rings and amulets.23 The invocation in this case would be addressed to Thoth, with a hypothetical original such as Θωθ βοήθει ἐμοῦ ἤδη, “Thoth, help me now!”

Signs (Fig. 8)

  • 24 See Gordon, l.c. (n. 6); K. Dzwiza, Schriftverwendung in antiker Ritualpraxis, anhand der Griechi (...)
  • 25 Eight-pointed star: e.g. Mastrocinque, SGG II, no. Na 20 (CBd-43); similarly, with six termini, M (...)

12The figure and text lie entwined in a field of non-phonetic signs, of the sort termed charakteres (χαρακτῆρες) within the Greek tradition,24 with some forms resembling isolated Greek letters. The signs are predominantly of a single type, namely asteriform intersections of lines terminating in rings. The eight-pointed, ringed star, popular in later Greek and Coptic magical texts on papyrus, figured also on gems, as did a variant with six points.25 Some variant, rectilinear shapes on this model are also seen.

Abstract ink patterns (Fig. 9)

  • 26 Suppl.Mag II 96.56–59 (fifth or sixth century CE).

13Across the composition formed by the elements analyzed in § 1–3 runs a single, thick diagonal line in the same red-brown ink, branching into two near the halfway point. The terminus at what is the lower left corner in the present mounting is considerably thicker, perhaps due to running of the ink. Further, the center part of the main branch, and the upper fork, are partly effaced, while both have received a sort of vertical hatching, as if the scribe redirected excess ink from the diagonals into these hatches. While the hatches themselves are attested in a ritual context, a Greek papyrus formulary recipe for a textual amulet for fever, in which a horizontal line is furnished with descending hatch-marks each finished with a circular terminus,26 the branching lines have no clear analogue in the papyri or the gem-engraving context from which the rest of the composition probably derived. They may have served to divide the field of the visual program into units corresponding to distinct amulets to be produced from a pattern-book, though it cannot be excluded that the writer made opportunistic use of an ink spill or similar accident, or thought to elaborate the composite of motifs with a more abstract design.

  • 27 Suppl.Mag. I 17; P.Oxy. LXVIII 4673.
  • 28 P.Bon. 9 with J. van Haelst, Catalogue des papyrus littéraires juifs et chrétiens, Paris, 1976, n (...)
  • 29 Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France cod. gr. 2224 f. 77v (unpublished); Oxford, Bodleian Libr (...)
  • 30 Tentatively in the case of two animal bones with binding-curses in Coptic of the ninth or tenth c (...)
  • 31 So too in the Oxyrhynchus magical papyrus mentioned above, with similar red-brown ink (P.Oxy. LXV (...)
  • 32 Suppl.Mag. II 92.

14The red color of the ink also deserves some comment. In some contexts, such a color may have lent ritual significance. A papyrus amulet of the fifth century against scorpion-sting uses red ink, as does a magical papyrus from Oxyrhynchus of the late fourth or early fifth century, a finished product of a procedure for erotic attraction (ἀγωγή), with an invocation of Seth accompanied by a figural drawing of him and some magical charakteres.27 Similar ink also appears in a probably amuletic copy on papyrus of an acclamation of the Christian trinity, Mary the theotokos, and Longinus the centurion.28 From a later period, a Byzantine recipe in a codex of the first half of the fifteenth century recommends writing magical words, a phrase from the liturgy, and an invocation of John the Baptist as a cure for fever, in red ink (μετὰ μελανίου κοκκίνου); another of the same date prescribes a ritual inscription in red letters (ἐρυθρὰ γράμματα) as a means of divining the identity of a thief via the selection mechanism of a rooster.29 The mixing of blood in the ink, as has sometimes been proposed in cases of red color in magical texts,30 is not probable in the case of a formulary. Any appearance of bleeding is rather to be ascribed to the inexperience of the writer in general,31 suggested also by the appearance of an inked fingerprint at bottom center (Fig. 10a–b), or possibly to a deliberate visual effect, instead of to the use of ink of an unusual consistency. The choice may have been for practical or aesthetic reasons instead, however, or at least should not predispose against a formulary in place of an amulet as at least one Greek magical formulary on papyrus in red-brown ink is known, from the fourth or fifth century.32

Context and conclusion

15The preceding analysis has situated elements of the composition of the Dublin papyrus in the tradition of magical gems, to which it may have stood in a broadly similar relation as the Louvre plaque. The figural drawing analyzed under § 1 is strongly reminiscent of the depictions of the divinity Chnoubis on magical gems, which is however unknown to the later tradition of Christian amulets in Greek and Coptic to which the Dublin papyrus might otherwise be expected to belong. The abstract inked lines (§ 4) cutting across the entire sheet, which might even have served to divide the composition into sections, similarly set the result apart from the unity expected in a single amuletic finished product. The difficult textual portions (§ 2) may so far elude definitive interpretation, but it seems probable that they contain at least a form of the precatory imperative βοήθει, at home among amulets including gems, but in a mirrored writing unexpected in a finished product. It remains now by way of conclusion to consider more precisely the nature of the relation of the present artifact to older traditions of pattern books or formularies.

  • 33 P.Berl. inv. 21718A–D, 21719–21720, ed. W.M. Brashear, Magica Varia, Brussels, 1991 (Papyrologica (...)

16Both the Louvre and Dublin designs are composites. The Dublin assemblage however lacks the granular quality of the Louvre plaque, which could be analyzed into distinct designs for gem-engraving. Rather, its elements, especially in the case of the combination of figural drawing and text in § 1 and 2.B, appear to have been merged from multiple exemplars with the intention of creating a larger whole, not facilitating the production of smaller gems. The compiler also made use of recycled rather than fresh papyrus, contributing to the impression of a working copy. Hence, we may have to do with a pattern-book consisting of a single sheet, or with a free-standing, working copy of multiple motifs from different amuletic exemplars, assembled with a view to further production of amulets. In this connection, mention may be made of six small slips of papyrus of the Roman period from the Lower Egyptian village of Soknopaiou Nesos with figural illustrations paralleled among magical gems, for which a function as models for gem-cutting has been proposed.33

  • 34 P.Oxy. XLII 3068 = Suppl.Mag. I 5. For the circulation of magical texts by correspondence more ge (...)

17Aside from the obvious witness of the surviving formularies and finished products themselves, a more occasional ancient copying of magical texts, and their circulation in this form among correspondents, can be documented, to which the Dublin papyrus may relate. In a Greek private letter of the third century CE from the Egyptian city of Oxyrhynchus, the sender asks for a copy on papyrus (πέμψον γράψας εἰς πιττάκιον ὡς περιέχει) of a gold lamella amulet against tonsillitis (τὸ πρὸς παρίσθμια περίαμμα εἰς τὸ χρυσοῦν πέταλον).34 That the dispatch of the copy is directed to yet a third party, a certain Sarmates apparently already known to both sender and addressee, indicates a network, however small in this case, of individuals interested in and actively seeking out sources for amulets.

18What will the sources for the particular composition in the Dublin papyrus have been? As suggested above, the presence of text in mirrored writing indicates either the direct copying of gems already in mirrored writing, or, especially since the latter were not very common, the copying of impressions of gems taken for example in clay, as a form of handy archiving. That the mirroring is only partial may indicate simple incompetence on the part of the copyist, or perhaps the use of further sources of a different character, such as notes on papyrus. In that case we would have a witness, if not to another pattern-book first hand, at least to the sustained use of and interest in such documents in later times.

Figures

Fig. 1 P.Dublin CBL inv. Cpt 2177.82

© The Trustees of the Chester Beatty Library, Dublin

Fig. 2 P.Dublin CBL inv. Cpt 2177.82

drawing by the author

Fig. 3 P.Heid. inv. K 679, back

© Institut für Papyrologie, Universität Heidelberg

Fig. 4 P.Dublin CBL inv. Cpt 2177.82 (detail)

drawing by the author

Fig. 5 P.Dublin CBL inv. Cpt 2177.82 (detail)

drawing by the author

Fig. 6a P.Dublin CBL inv. Cpt 2177.82 (detail)

drawing by the author

Fig. 6b P.Dublin CBL inv. Cpt 2177.82 (detail, mirrored)

drawing by the author

Fig. 7a P.Dublin CBL inv. Cpt 2177.82 (detail)

drawing by the author

Fig. 7b P.Dublin CBL inv. Cpt 2177.82 (detail, mirrored)

drawing by the author

Fig. 8 P.Dublin CBL inv. Cpt 2177.82 (detail)

drawing by the author

Fig. 9 P.Dublin CBL inv. Cpt 2177.82 (detail)

drawing by the author

Fig. 10a P.Dublin CBL inv. Cpt 2177.82 (detail)

drawing by the author

Fig. 10b P.Dublin CBL inv. Cpt 2177.82 (detail)

drawing by the author

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Notes

1 C.A. Faraone, “A copper plaque in the Louvre (inv. AD 003732): composite amulet or pattern-book for making individual body-amulets?”, Kernos 30 (2017), p. 187–220. The following abbreviations are used for publications of gems: Bonner, SMA = C. Bonner, Studies in Magical Amulets, Ann Arbor, 1950 (note also the partially revised online edition, 2013 [http://classics.mfab.hu/talismans/tour/970]); CBd = The Campbell Bonner Magical Gems Database [http://classics.mfab.hu/talismans/], 2010–; Mastrocinque, BnF = A. Mastrocinque, Les intailles magiques du Département des monnaies, médailles et antiques, Paris, 2014; Mastrocinque, SGG = A. Mastrocinque, Sylloge gemmarum gnosticarum, I and II, Rome, 2004 and 2007; Michel, BM = S. Michel, Die magischen Gemmen im Britischen Museum, London, 2001. For papyri: PGM = K. Preisendanz, Papyri Graecae Magicae, 2nd ed. rev. by A. Henrichs, Stuttgart, 1973–1974; Suppl.Mag. = R.W. Daniel, F. Maltomini, Supplementum Magicum, Opladen, 1990–1992 (Papyrologica Coloniensia 16); and the papyri.info Checklist (http://papyri.info/docs/checklist).

2 “Rorschach test”: J.G. Keenan, “[Review of] The Oxyrhynchus Papyri, Volume LVIII”, BASP 29 (1992), p. 211–217, at p. 216. Modern sham: such was also the case for the Louvre plaque; see Faraone, l.c. (n. 1), p. 256 n. 2. On papyrus forgeries, in addition to the difficult case of the sensational Artemidorus papyrus (C. Gallazzi, B. Kramer and S. Settis [eds.], Intorno al Papiro di Artemidoro. II. Geografia e cartografia. Atti del Convegno internazionale del 27 novembre 2009 presso la Società Geografica Italiana, Villa Celimontana, Roma, Milano, 2012; L. Canfora, “The so-called Artemidorus papyrus: A reconsideration”, MH 70 [2013], p. 157–179; A. Esposito, “Da Liverpool a Basilea: Per una storia del falso Artemidoro”, QS 43 [2017], p. 183–204), see R. Coles, C. Gallazzi, “Papyri and Ostraka: Alterations and Counterfeits”, in Scritti in onore di Orsolina Montevecchi, Bologna, 1981, p. 99–105; U. Horak, “Fälschungen auf Papyrus, Pergament, Papier und Ostraka”, Tyche 6 (1991), p. 91–98; M. Zellmann-Rohrer, “Patched and peeled in London: a memorandum for a trip to Constantinople”, APF 60 (2014), p. 217–222.

3 Even if suspension were admitted, it need not indicate a finished amulet (see further below) as opposed to a pattern-book, which, as also postulated for the copper plaque, could have been displayed in this manner in the workshop of its user.

4 The Cpt of the shelfmark stands for Coptic; the large and miscellaneous lot Cpt 2177 to which this papyrus belongs was probably bought from the collection of Wilfred Merton: see T.M. Hickey, K. Vandorpe, “A New Fragment from P.Batav. 5 (Pathyris, May 118 BC)”, ZPE 202 (2017), p. 214–218. Despite the Coptic designation, the lot’s 135 fragments contain Greek texts as well, including that edited by Hickey and Vandorpe (from the Greek portion of a Demotic-Greek bilingual), and one in Arabic; for the Coptic contents see L.S.B. MacCoull, “Coptic Documentary Papyri from Aphrodito in the Chester Beatty Library”, BASP 22 (1985), p. 197–203. The provenance of the Greek text from Pathyris indicates that the connection with “Aphrodito” indicated by the label on the frame in which the current text is mounted cannot be accepted at face value.

5 Cf. e.g. P.Laur. IV 141 with G. Cavallo, H. Maehler, Greek Bookhands of the Early Byzantine Period: A.D. 300–800, London, 1987 (BICS Suppl. 47), no. 19b (485).

6 The presence of charakteres (on which see below) is not diagnostic, as these are already well attested by the fourth century — see R. Gordon, “Charaktêres between antiquity and the Renaissance: transmission and re-invention”, in V. Dasen, J.‑M. Spieser (eds.), Les Savoirs magiques et leur transmission de l’Antiquité à la Renaissance, Florence, 2014, p. 253–300, esp. p. 262–264 — even if their peak among Coptic-language texts is somewhat later.

7 Among papyri see e.g. PGM XVIIc and XXVa; among metal amulets, the silver lamella from fourth-century Viminacium (Moesia Superia), ed. M. Korać, M. Ricl, “New Gold and Silver Amulets from Moesia Superior (Serbia)”, ZPE 203 (2017), p. 164–175, at p. 172–174 no. 3 (with further references).

8 P.Heid. inv. Kopt. 679, ed. P.Bad. V 142, line 15: ⲥϩⲁⲓ ⲡⲓⲍ(ⲱⲇⲓⲟⲛ) ⲙⲛⲛⲓⲫⲩ(ⲗⲁⲕⲧⲏⲣⲓⲟⲛ); see also A. Jördens et al., Ägyptische Magie im Wandel der Zeiten: Eine Ausstellung des Instituts für Papyrologie in Zusammenarbeit mit dem Institut für Ägyptologie der Universität Heidelberg, Heidelberg, 2011, p. 32 no. 7.

9 P.Vind. R 7 (G 2309), ed. PGM P XLIX, undated; U. Horak, in C.Illum.Pap. I p. 248 no. ViP 217, tentatively gives the sixth century.

10 P.Berl. P 8329, ed. BKU I 15: ⲡϭⲱⲡⲉ ⲛⲡⲃⲉⲗ and ̅̅ ̅̅ ̅̅; W. Beltz, “Die koptischen Zauberpergamente der Papyrus-Sammlung der Staatlichen Museen zu Berlin”, APF 30 (1984), p. 83–106, at p. 94. At least three further unpublished pieces of this sort could be added (the existence of which was kindly communicated by an anonymous reader), which cannot be treated here but which, it is hoped, will be included in the forthcoming Kyprianos database of Coptic magical texts (http://www.coptic-magic.phil.uni-wuerzburg.de).

11 Gems: Bonner, SMA; Greek papyri: for a recent publication with iconographic discussion, P.Eirene II 30–31; for Coptic: K. Dosoo, “Zōdion and Praxis: An Illustrated Coptic Magical Papyrus in the Macquarie University Collection”, Journal of Coptic Studies 20 (2018), p. 11–56.

12 Lion-headed serpent: e.g. M. Henig, Classical Gems: Ancient and Modern Intaglios and Cameos in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, 1994, p. 226–227 no. 499 (CBd-103); addition of altar or cista: e.g. Henig, o.c., p. 228 no. 502 (CBd-106); Mastrocinque, BnF, no. 251 (CBd-335). See further V. Dasen, A.M. Nagy, “Le serpent léontocéphale Chnoubis et la magie de l’époque romain impériale”, in S. Barbara, J. Trinquier (eds.), Ophiaca : Diffusion et réception des savoirs antiques sur les Ophidiens, Paris, 2012 (Anthropozoologica 47.1), p. 291–314.

13 Faraone, l.c. (n. 1), p. 261–264.

14 Knm(t), generally listed first among the decans and portrayed with a snake’s body, later conflated with the ram-headed creator god nm: C. Sambin, J.‑F. Carlotti, “Une porte de fête-sed de Ptolémée II remployée dans le temple de Montou à Médamoud”, BIFAO 95 (1995), p. 383–457, at p. 422–423; H.J. Thissen, “Κμηφ — Ein verkannter Gott”, ZPE 112 (1996), p. 153–160, at p. 155–156; J.F. Quack, “From Egyptian Traditions to Magical Gems: Possibilities and Pitfalls in Scholarly Analysis”, in K. Endreffy, A.M. Nagy, J. Spier (eds.), Magical Gems in Their Contexts: Proceedings of the International Workshop Held at the Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest, 16–18 February 2012, Rome, 2019 (Studia Archaeologica, 229), p. 233–249, at p. 235.

15 Helios: Michel, BM, no. 266 (CBd-97); Harpocrates: Michel, BM, no. 120 (CBd-520); Pantheos: Mastrocinque, BnF, no. 160 (CBd-3324), with the addition as here of a halo. On the identification of the Pantheos figure: Quack, l.c. (n. 14), p. 236–247. Frontal orientation: this point is owed to an anonymous reviewer, who refers to the three or possibly four post-ancient instances of frontal representations among a total of seven human-headed depictions of Chnoubis on magical gems in the CBd (nos. 976, 1637, 2833; 1907?).

16 Striations: Mastrocinque, BnF, no. 253 (CBd-332); elongation: e.g. Michel, BM, no. 317 (CBd-703).

17 C. Andrews, Amulets of Ancient Egypt, London, 1994, p. 82–83.

18 Henig, o.c. (n. 7), p. 227 no. 500 (CBd-104): lion-headed serpent with text Χνουβις in mirrored writing; Mastrocinque, SGG II no. Ro 31 (CBd-2253): an acclamation, μεγάλη θεὰ Πισιδική; Classical Numismatic Group, Sale 273, lot 559 (CBd-1906): greek letters in mirrored writing around the Chnoubis serpent crowned with rays; and, if in fact ancient, Michel, BM, no. 598 (CBd-957).

19 Among papyrus amulets, e.g. Suppl.Mag. I 13.5, and among gems, e.g. F.M. Schwartz and J.H. Schwartz, “Engraved gems in the collection of the American Numismatic Society: 1. Ancient magical amulets”, Museum Notes (American Numismatic Society) 24 (1979), p. 149–197, at p. 181 no. 42 (CBd-1784). For the phonetic spelling, F.T. Gignac, A Grammar of the Greek Papyri of the Roman and Byzantine Periods, Milan, 1976, vol. I, p. 82.

20 Bonner, SMA, no. D57 = Mastrocinque, BnF, no. 417 (CBd-1308).

21 See in general e.g. Suppl.Mag. I 9.14; only one instance on a gem is known, a jasper with an invocation of divine names including Ιαω to grant χάρις and νίκη to a named bearer, one Phrontine daughter of Alexandra, urged on with ἤδη ἤδη τάχος τάχος: P. Zazoff, Antike Gemmen in deutschen Sammlungen. Band III. Braunschweig, Göttingen, Kassel, Wiesbaden, 1970, p. 226–227 no. 127 (I owe this reference to an anonymous reader); the end of the invocation may be read and supplemented from the plate ἐμοὶ Φρ[ο]ντίνῃ [ἣν ἔτε]κε Ἀλεξνδρα (ε καὶ φρ[]ντινη[]κε Ἀλέζανδρᾳ, Zazoff).

22 Θωθ: Bonner, SMA, nos. D361 (CBd-1263) and D247 (CBd-1426) = Mastrocinque, BnF, no. 127 (CBd-1426); Θωουθ: Michel, BM, no. 61 (CBd-440); Θωυθ: Mastrocinque, SGG II no. RoC 3 [wrongly printing Θουθ] (CBd-2220). Τοτ is perhaps to be understood similarly in the Greek papyrus formulary PGM III 254, in place of τότ’ (Preisendanz, i.e. τότε), and Τατ, found also in the Corpus Hermeticum, in P.Oxy. LXXXII 5303.4 with the review of M. Zellmann-Rohrer, BMCR 2017.06.39; cf. also Τοθορνατησα in PGM IV 1630.

23 Rings: O.M. Dalton, Franks Bequest: Catalogue of the Finger Rings, early Christian, Byzantine, Teutonic, Mediaeval and later, bequeathed by Sir Augustus Wollaston Franks, K.C.B., in which are included the other Rings of the same periods in the Museum, London, 1912, p. 11–12 nos. 57 (κ(ύρι)ε βοίθι Κοστατάνου), 60 (κ(ύρι)ε βοήθη τῆς φορού(σης)), 61 (κ(ύρι)ε βοήθη τοῦ φορντος). Metal amulet: Bonner, SMA, no. 316 (κύριε βοήθι Θεωδότου). Papyrus amulet: Suppl.Mag. I 13.5–6 (βοήθησον τῆς μεικρᾶς Σοφία⟨ς⟩).

24 See Gordon, l.c. (n. 6); K. Dzwiza, Schriftverwendung in antiker Ritualpraxis, anhand der Griechischen, demotischen und koptischen Praxisanleitungen des 1.–7. Jahrhunderts, Erfurt/Heidelberg, 2013, and Ead., “Magical signs: an extraordinary phenomenon or just business as usual? Analysing decoration patterns on magical gems”, in K. Endreffy, A.M. Nagy, J. Spier (eds.), Magical Gems in Their Contexts: Proceedings of the International Workshop Held at the Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest, 16–18 February 2012, Rome, 2019 (Studia Archaeologica, 229), p. 59–83. For recent discussion of published examples see the inscribed vegetable bark from sixth-century Antinoopolis, ed. D. Minutoli, “Exempla di vari supporti scrittori contenenti testi magici provenienti da Antinoupolis”, in M. De Haro Sanchez (ed.), Écrire la magie dans l’antiquité: Actes du colloque international (Liège, 13–15 octobre 2011), Liège, 2015, p. 51–67, at p. 63–67; and the magical papyrus from Oxyrhynchus, P.Oxy. LXXXII 5304 ii 32 n.

25 Eight-pointed star: e.g. Mastrocinque, SGG II, no. Na 20 (CBd-43); similarly, with six termini, Mastrocinque, SGG II, no. Ro 36 (CBd-58).

26 Suppl.Mag II 96.56–59 (fifth or sixth century CE).

27 Suppl.Mag. I 17; P.Oxy. LXVIII 4673.

28 P.Bon. 9 with J. van Haelst, Catalogue des papyrus littéraires juifs et chrétiens, Paris, 1976, no. 893; T.S. de Bruyn, J.H.F. Dijkstra, “Greek amulets and formularies from Egypt containing Christian elements: a checklist of papyri, parchments, ostraka, and tablets”, BASP 48 (2011), p. 163–216 at p. 198–199 no. 104; a digital facsimile is available at https://amshistorica.unibo.it/215.

29 Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France cod. gr. 2224 f. 77v (unpublished); Oxford, Bodleian Library MS. Barocci 216, f. 113v (unpublished).

30 Tentatively in the case of two animal bones with binding-curses in Coptic of the ninth or tenth centuries: J. Drescher, “A Coptic Malediction”, ASAE 48 (1948), p. 267–276; and a sixteenth-century parchment roll produced in England with an amuletic text including John 1: 1–14 in Latin and the Lord’s Prayer transliterated from the Greek, accompanied by magical charakteres and divine names: Oxford, Bodleian Library MS. Bodl. Rolls 26, see F. Madan, H.H.E. Craster, A Summary Catalogue of Western Manuscripts in the Bodleian Library at Oxford, vol. II.1: Collections received before 1660 and miscellaneous manuscripts acquired during the first half of the 17th century, Oxford, 1922, p. 590 no. 3115. Blood is in any case prescribed in some formulary recipes as ink: see the commentary to P.Oslo I 1.72 and Suppl.Mag. II 97 ↓ 7.

31 So too in the Oxyrhynchus magical papyrus mentioned above, with similar red-brown ink (P.Oxy. LXVIII 4673), in particular in the last eight lines of the text.

32 Suppl.Mag. II 92.

33 P.Berl. inv. 21718A–D, 21719–21720, ed. W.M. Brashear, Magica Varia, Brussels, 1991 (Papyrologica Bruxellensia, 25), p. 74–79. For specific features of inscriptions on gems that suggest direct copying from written formularies, see C.A. Faraone, “Scribal mistakes, handbook abbreviations and other peculiarities on some ancient Greek amulets”, ΜΗΝΗ 13 (2013), p. 139–156.

34 P.Oxy. XLII 3068 = Suppl.Mag. I 5. For the circulation of magical texts by correspondence more generally, note also, from a Manichaean context in fourth-century Kellis, another private epistle in Coptic serving as a cover-letter for a copy of a bilingual Greek-Coptic invocation for aggressive magic: P.Kellis V 35 with P. Mirecki, I. Gardner, A. Alcock, “Magical Spell, Manichaean Letter”, in P. Mirecki, J. BeDuhn (eds.), Emerging from Darkness: Studies in the Recovery of Manichaean Sources, Leiden, 1997 (Nag Hammadi and Manichaean Studies 43), p. 1–32; E.O.D. Love, Code-switching with the Gods: the Bilingual (Old Coptic-Greek) spells of PGM IV (P. Bibliothèque nationale supplément grec 574) and their Linguistic, Religious, and Socio-cultural Context in Late Roman Egypt, Berlin, 2016 (Zeitschrift für ägyptische Sprache und Altertumskunde Beiheft, 4), p. 273–276.

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Michael Zellmann-Rohrer, « More on the Tradition of Amulet Pattern-Books
in Post-Ancient Copies? »
Kernos, 33 | 2020, 187-201.

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Michael Zellmann-Rohrer, « More on the Tradition of Amulet Pattern-Books
in Post-Ancient Copies? »
Kernos [En ligne], 33 | 2020, mis en ligne le 31 décembre 2022, consulté le 06 février 2023. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/kernos/3464 ; DOI : https://doi.org/10.4000/kernos.3464

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