Divine Presences on Greek Magical Gems
Journée d'étude organized by Christopher Faraone, fellow at IEA de Paris
Greek magical gems are an important but understudied source of information about religious and magical beliefs of the different people living in the Roman Empire. They are “Greek” by modern convention, because the great majority of them carry inscriptions in the Greek alphabet, and because they seem to have mainly been a phenomenon of the eastern (that is Greek speaking) half of the Empire, although in the past they have also been labeled as “Gnostic”, “Graeco-Egyptian” and “Graeco-Roman”. They seem in essence to have been used as amulets for protection, healing, financial prosperity, victory and even as love charms and as one might expect they often represent either in image, symbol or name the most popular gods of the imperial period, for example, Mercury, Isis, Hekate, Asclepius, Horus, Nemesis and so on. On January 10 we will devote a day of research to discussing what the divine presences on magical gems can tell us about popular conceptions of these gods, the range of their powers and the intimate roles they played in the lives of the individuals who bought and owned them.