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Author Topic: Horus/Harpocrates Lead Amuletic Ring from Caesarea Maritima  (Read 233 times)

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Offline v-drome

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Horus/Harpocrates Lead Amuletic Ring from Caesarea Maritima
« on: April 13, 2022, 09:56:34 pm »
Hi, all.  Here is an interesting lead ring from Caesarea Maritima with Harpocrates seated left on lotus blossom.  To right and left in field: I/A/W (IAO, the Hellenized form of the Hebrew YHWH).  On the underside of the bezel, in two lines, is the Greek inscription ABPACAΞ.  This protective magical incantation, the numerical equivalent of 365, has several interpretations, and was utilized frequently by several religious and cultic groups, including the Gnostic Basilidians.  For a nearly identical example (in much better condition), and an excellent discussion of this ancient Egyptian motif, see Amorai-Stark, Hershkovitz, “Gemstones, Finger Rings, and Seal Boxes from Caesarea Maritima, The Hendler Collection” #479, c. Shay Hendler, Tel Aviv 2016.  I will be posting a couple of related items soon.  Any other comments or additions are welcome.

BCC L30
Lead Amuletic Ring
Late Roman c. 3rd-4th Century CE
Lead ring featuring Horus-Harpocrates, seated left on lotus,
right hand raised near face, left hand hanging down.  In field,
to right and left: I/A/W.  On the underside of the bezel, in two
lines above and below a casting burr: ABPA/CAΞ.
Pb 2.4 x 1.2 x 1.0cm. 4.32gm.  Bezel: 17x12mm
Surface find, Caesarea Maritima, 1973.
J. Berlin Caesarea Collection
(click for larger pic)

Offline v-drome

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Re: Horus/Harpocrates Lead Amuletic Ring from Caesarea Maritima
« Reply #1 on: April 15, 2022, 10:00:56 pm »
One more, smaller one:

BCC L31
Lead Amuletic Ring
Late Roman-3rd to 4th Century CE
Lead ring featuring Horus-Harpocrates, seated left on
lotus, right hand raised near face, left hand hanging down. 
In field, to right and left: I/A/W.  On the underside of the
bezel, in two lines above and below a casting burr: ABPA/CAΞ.
Pb 2.05 x 1.75 x 0.45cm. 2.41gm.  Bezel: 12.5x9mm
Cf. Amorai-Stark, Hershkovitz, Hendler #479
Surface find, Caesarea Maritima, 1977
J. Berlin Caesarea Collection

Offline v-drome

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Re: Horus/Harpocrates Lead Amuletic Ring from Caesarea Maritima
« Reply #2 on: April 16, 2022, 09:31:34 pm »
Another small ring with a very pronounced interior casting burr, perhaps intended to be sewn to something or worn on a chain.   Bezel inscribed in the positive IAW (IAO), a Hellenized form of the sacred name of the Hebrew deity .  Nearly identical in appearance, fabric, and manufacturing technique to a pair of rings published in the Hendler Collection, quite possibly from the same workshop.

BCC L11
Lead Amulet Ring
Late Roman - Gnostic?  Ca. 3rd Century CE
Obv: IAW (IAO) Greek letters in raised design. In addition
to the small diameter, there is a raised seam on the inside
which would seem to make this a very uncomfortable ring to wear.
22x17mm. Bezel: 13.5 x 5mm.  3.24gm.
Cf. Amorai-Stark, Hershkovitz, #477, 478 “Gemstones, Finger Rings,
and Seal Boxes from Caesarea Maritima, The Hendler Collection”, Tel Aviv 2016.
Surface find, Caesarea Maritima, 1973
J. Berlin Caesarea Collection

Offline Joe Sermarini

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Re: Horus/Harpocrates Lead Amuletic Ring from Caesarea Maritima
« Reply #3 on: April 17, 2022, 08:30:13 am »
Interesting! Thanks for posting it.
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Offline SC

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    • A Handbook of Late Roman Bronze Coin Types 324-395.
Re: Horus/Harpocrates Lead Amuletic Ring from Caesarea Maritima
« Reply #4 on: April 17, 2022, 09:51:49 am »
Very interesting.  I was not familiar with lead rings before.  Gold, silver, bronze, iron are all well known, but I have not seen lead examples listed in the few works I have - which are all European in focus.  Maybe a tradition restricted to the Near East?

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Offline Gert

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Re: Horus/Harpocrates Lead Amuletic Ring from Caesarea Maritima
« Reply #5 on: April 17, 2022, 02:58:37 pm »
These lead rings are known for quite some time (primarily in the trade), but most examples don't have their hoops any more, and end up being misdescribed as 'tesserae' etc. Their imagery and inscriptions would place them into the class of object that we would describe as 'magical'. This image of Horus on the lotus flower is also a common theme on magical gems. These lead rings are usually provenanced to Syria-Palestine and Asia Minor, but - just as the magical hardstone gems - they could conceivably have been in use in the entire Greco-Roman world. In fact, a considerable number of lead amulets, including rings, were described as part of the collection Récamier by Dissard. These were found in the river Saone in Lyon, and you can't get much more western than that. I have just finished a catalogue of Roman lead talismans to appear in the next volume of Koinon. I hope to be able to include these types as well, as they were not known to me. I found 23 different types of lead ring, including the IAW type, but more are bound to appear. The most common artifact type is a simple pendant with a suspension loop (look in V-Drome's gallery to see some examples), but there are also rectangular beads known, inscribed with the same type of legend.
Regards
Gert


Offline v-drome

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Re: Horus/Harpocrates Lead Amuletic Ring from Caesarea Maritima
« Reply #6 on: April 18, 2022, 02:15:16 am »
Thank you Gert, Shawn, and Joe.  Additional entries to this post are encouraged.  Gert you are, of course, welcome to include any items from my gallery in your project.

Best regards, Jimi

Lead artifact gallery: https://www.forumancientcoins.com/gallery/thumbnails.php?album=3998

Offline Joe Sermarini

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Re: Horus/Harpocrates Lead Amuletic Ring from Caesarea Maritima
« Reply #7 on: April 20, 2022, 01:07:44 pm »
These rings look quite unwearable with an uncomfortable casting seam. Perhaps they were only worn by the dead?
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Re: Horus/Harpocrates Lead Amuletic Ring from Caesarea Maritima
« Reply #8 on: April 21, 2022, 07:49:20 am »
They do look hard to wear.

Could be for the dead.

Could also be offertory - lead objects often were - which might indicate that normal, and more valuable, rings were once offered but were slowly replaced with lead versions.

Could also have been meant to be worn for a short period.  For example incubation was common in the Near East where a supplicant would spend the night in a temple hoping for a holy revelation while they slept. 

Just guessing but I agree with Joe that they don't seem to be something that would be worn for a long time (at least by the living).

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Offline Gert

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Re: Horus/Harpocrates Lead Amuletic Ring from Caesarea Maritima
« Reply #9 on: April 21, 2022, 11:05:01 am »
I have been wondering about this myself. Could a substance have been applied, now lost, meant to smoothen the inside?
I don't think these were made for the dead. These amulets were used to protect against death (among other things), so that does not seem likely to me. These rings, and the related amulets manufactured as pendants and beads, are clearly related somehow to amulets made from precious stones and metals, so it seems to me that their function and use is also similar, to be worn on the body of the living with a magical purpose.
Regards
Gert


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Re: Horus/Harpocrates Lead Amuletic Ring from Caesarea Maritima
« Reply #10 on: April 21, 2022, 01:04:50 pm »
Hendler's book, referencing Amitai and Wolfe 2011:14, note 14, "It has been suggested that when an inscription was placed on the underside of the ring bezel, touching the wearer's skin, it was believed to augment the amuletic effectiveness of such rings.  Magical gems engraved on both sides would be set in open-frame bezels (or pendants)."  Amorai-Stark, Hershkovitz, p. 438.

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Re: Horus/Harpocrates Lead Amuletic Ring from Caesarea Maritima
« Reply #11 on: April 21, 2022, 02:59:36 pm »
Yes, that seems to be hard to reconcile.
Regards
Gert

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Re: Horus/Harpocrates Lead Amuletic Ring from Caesarea Maritima
« Reply #12 on: April 22, 2022, 10:51:30 am »
I don't think that death ended the need for magical help
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