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Part 2. Transformations of scale

Gods on small things: Egyptian monumental iconography on late antique magical gems and the Greek and Demotic magical papyri

Les dieux sur les petits objets : l’iconographie monumentale égyptienne sur les gemmes magiques tardives et les papyri grecs et démotiques
Nick West
p. 135-166

Résumés

On est bien informé de l’iconographie religieuse de l’Égypte ancienne—depuis Horus et Seth se disputant le trône du royaume jusqu’à Anubis en train d’embaumer les morts—par les temples, les murs de tombes et les omniprésents cippi. Les reproductions miniatures de ces images, gravées sur de petites gemmes magiques et destinées à des fonctions personnelles, sont moins bien connues, quoique tout aussi fascinantes. Comment s’est effectué ce transfert iconographique dans l’Antiquité tardive? Ce chapitre compare du matériel provenant de papyri magiques grecs et démotiques et situe les images illustrées sur les gemmes dans le contexte de la tradition rituelle gréco-égyptienne. Il examine le rapport entre les gemmes et les papyri, dans le cas où l’iconographie est d’influence égyptienne, et considère quels peuvent avoir été les agents de transmission de cette iconographie monumentale traditionnelle à la fois dans les gemmes et les papyri magiques.

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1. Introduction

  • 1 For a general overview of the magical papyri see further the introductions in Betz, 1992, p. xli-li (...)
  • 2 For an introduction to the late antique magical gems see Zazoff, 1983, p. 349-62. For the contempor (...)
  • 3 All dates hereafter are BCE, unless otherwise noted.

1The Greek and Demotic magical papyri are an invaluable collection for studying the transmission of Egyptian ritual tradition into Greek literature and ritual anthologies.1 In this chapter I compare these papyri with the late antique magical gems with which they are contemporaneous.2 The chapter forms part a larger research project that examines the transmission of Pharaonic Egyptian iconography, religious lore and ritual practices through cultural artefacts ranging from literary texts to magical handbooks and objects dating from the Ptolemaic period (332-30 BCE) onwards.3 Here I analyse both the relationship between the magical gems and papyri and the influence of older Egyptian traditions on these artefacts.

  • 4 Janowitz, 2001, p. 44-45. For previous discussions pertaining to the relationship between the gems (...)
  • 5 I accept Michel’s dates for the gems for the purposes of this study since I concentrate on the gem’ (...)

2While Naomi Janowitz advocates that the gems and the papyri should be considered as two separate traditions and asserts that within the two magical corpora ‘cross-over figure[s]’ such as Solomon are few and far between, I advocate rather that these cross-over figures may be found on ‘Egyptianised’ magical gems and papyri; both corpora effectively form two sides of the same coin.4 That is to say that both share the same iconographical source that may be found within an Egyptian priestly milieu. The range of magical gems is a sliding scale of cultural influences from different traditions; many clearly derive from a Greek or other non-Egyptian cultural milieu, while others are clearly influenced by Egyptian religious tradition and have many features that are extant in Pharaonic (3100-332) artefacts. The chapter focuses mostly on gems housed at the British Museum, the world’s largest collection of such artefacts, published recently by Simone Michel, owing to both the breadth of the corpus and Michel’s provision of dates for the corpus (dates are not always provided in earlier gem catalogues for other large collections). I follow her numbering system throughout.5

  • 6 For an overview of gems throughout antiquity see Zazoff, 1983, passim and, for a standard collectio (...)
  • 7 Petrie, 1914, p. 30-32, includes what most scholars call ‘gems’ in his book entitled ‘Amulets’; see (...)

3I use the terms ‘amulet’ and ‘gem’ in accordance with publications in Egyptology and Late Antique studies respectively. This distinguishes ‘amulets’ of the Pharaonic period from ‘gems’ of the Ptolemaic and Roman Periods down to Late Antiquity (332 BCE-c. CE 500). There are pros and cons to such a distinction: one of the drawbacks to this approach is that it implies there were neither amulets of Pharaonic type in the Ptolemaic period onwards nor inscribed gems before the Ptolemaic period; this is simply not the case.6 The advantage of using this distinction, however, derives from the ability to distinguish artefacts that have two-dimensional images cut onto the faces of various media from artefacts that are rendered in the round. Gems from the Ptolemaic period to Late Antiquity tend to conform to the former description while artefacts from the Pharaonic epoch conform to the latter. Personal preference seems to determine whether or not an artefact’s iconography that is rendered on a flat surface (a ‘gem’) should be considered as a distinct type of artefact from those that have their iconography rendered in the round (an ‘amulet’). This distinction becomes more unhelpful when the same motifs may be found on both ‘gems’ and ‘amulets’ and is complicated even further when the similar functions of ‘gems’ and ‘amulets’ are taken into account.7 A comparison of ‘amulets’ and ‘gems’ is provided in the first section of the chapter.

  • 8 Smith, 1979, p. 129-36.
  • 9 Smith, 1979, p. 133.

4The second section demonstrates the drawbacks resulting from treating the magical papyri and gems as two distinct corpora, a practice favoured by modern scholars. A case in point is an article by Morton Smith.8 His assertions pertaining to the relationship between the gems and the papyri are heavily preconditioned by the notion of a ‘lost magical literature written by men who regularly prescribed stones instead of the metal and papyrus strips commonly prescribed by writers of our papyri’.9 There are many instances that required no written instructions at all, but merely an iconographical archetype found on the walls of monumental structures such as temples. By ignoring the influence of such archetypes, Smith dismisses gems and images from the magical papyri that were influenced by monumental iconography. I will argue that studying the magical papyri in conjunction with these gems enhances our knowledge of the deities depicted thereon. A particular group of gems whose images are argued to depict the god Seth by some scholars and Anubis by others will be considered in this context.

5After I have explored the Seth vs. Anubis controversy I will proceed in the following sections to examine the iconography found on both the gems and papyri that bear Egyptian influences. I will argue that the imagery thereon was inspired by a variety of monumental iconographic designs ranging from temple and funerary representations to personal apotropaic stelai. In the final section I will explore whether it is possible to attribute the miniaturized (and or simplified) images on the gems and papyri to an Egyptian priestly milieu by examining one particular motif that originates from traditional Egyptian ritual practice. These insights will be reinforced with instances where Egyptian hieroglyphics are used as motifs on the gems.

2. The gems: form, function and continuity with Pharaonic amulets

  • 10 See further Michel, 2001, p. 65-68, gems 99-103 and Michel, 2001, p. 327-32, gems 563-74.
  • 11 For motifs absent from the gems compare the Eye of Horus (wedjat) found in several renditions on th (...)
  • 12 Dieleman, 2005, p. 132-33 and 170-82; Dieleman, Moyer, 2003, p. 47-72; Smith, 2001, p. 13-27.
  • 13 The cippus in figure 1 measures 20.3 x 13.4 x 5.0 cm while the amulet in figure 2 measures 3.8 x 2. (...)
  • 14 Petrie, 1914, numbers 144a-f.
  • 15 See Petrie, 1914, p. 23.

6Pharaonic amulets share iconographies in common with late antique magical gems. The gems display a wide range of Pharaonic Egyptian imagery found in a variety of contexts such as monumental inscriptions and private stelai, which are also found miniaturised on the amulets. Smaller motifs, such as the scarab beetle, also appear on a number of gems as well as a single instance in the magical papyri (figure 5a).10 There are some Pharaonic motifs lacking from the gems but found on the magical papyri; such instances deserve further study in future publications.11 Below I enumerate several instances in which iconography from monumental media are miniaturized for use by private individuals. A similar process of miniaturisation later occurred in the magical papyri whereby temple rituals were adapted for the private sphere.12 Apotropaic stelai called ‘cippus of Horus’ (figure 1a) were often covered with ritual texts to heal beneficiaries from afflictions such as burns and animal bites or stings. Water poured over these texts was either drunk or applied to the injury since it acquired ritual power through making contact with these spells. As Jane Draycott discusses in the previous chapter, imagery derived from these cippi was miniaturized on amulets with the same apotropaic function (figure 1b).13 Six such amulets collected by Flinders Petrie date from around the 25th Dynasty (c. 747-656) to the Roman period (30 BCE-CE 395), helping to determine the period in which this miniaturisation occurred.14 A second case of miniaturisation for decoration on amulets concerns the embalming scene, one famous example of union is found in Sennedjem’s tomb from the 19th Dynasty (c. 1295-c. 1186) (figure 2). This image of Anubis officiating over the mummy is common. Some such images merely depict the mummy on a bier (figure 3a) while others include Anubis (figure 3b). Both types of amulets were found on mummies from tombs at Denderah from the Ptolemaic period (332-30).15 We will explore gems that share such miniaturising tendencies in the next section.

  • 16 P. Berlin 29009: fragment a, x+9; translated by Quack in Szpakowska, 2006, p. 180.
  • 17 Quack in Szpakowska, 2006, p. 180.

7Although many gems in Michel’s edition are of unknown provenance we may still understand something about their function. Examining their motifs in conjunction with Egyptian religious belief may make their function clearer. Gems depicting a mummy with a scarab near or on its head are a case in point. In the remains of an Egyptian dream manual from the Saite Dynasty (664-525) it is said: ‘a man who sees <himself> while a scarab is on his head will die’.16 Since the scarab was commonly used to decorate the head of a coffin in the Late Period this dream indicates fitness for burial.17

  • 18 Andrews, 1994, p. 7; see also the MacGregor Papyrus in Capart, 1908.

8Readiness for burial was a most ideal situation for the deceased, who might then be a grateful recipient of this motif. Perhaps other gems with motifs influenced by Pharaonic tomb imagery were also used for the deceased. Such practices seem to continue from the Pharaonic to the Ptolemaic period when we have several late illustrations of the body with relative locations where amulets were placed on the mummy (figure 4).18

  • 19 Andrews, 1994, p. 106. Bonner, 1946, p. 53-54, also believes that the same types of amulet were use (...)
  • 20 Bonner, 1946, p. 36.

9Like Pharaonic amulets, magical gems were no doubt worn by the living.19 Some gems have holes to accommodate a thread or the like so as to be worn on the body. There are cases where the same motif is found on gems both with and without a hole; perhaps these were carried by other means.20 Bonner notes that many ‘holes drilled within the field of the amulet are often of modern origin’. Some holes may be ancient; instructions in PGM I: 42-195, describe a gem with a drilled hole through which string was inserted so it could be worn around the neck.

10In terms of iconography, magical gems seem to betray both continuities with and innovations from Pharaonic practice. Depictions of various Egyptian deities on the gems remain very close to traditional renditions on temple walls and other monumental media as we shall see throughout this study. Having outlined the differences and similarities between gems and amulets, I turn to the broader question of iconography in the magical traditions of Late Antiquity, specifically with regards to the Greek and Demotic magical papyri. Representations of the god Seth will serve as a starting point from which I will note further observations about the relationship between gems and papyri in general.

3. The god Seth in Late Antique magic

  • 21 See further Wilkinson, 2003, p. 197-99.
  • 22 For Seth in the magical papyri see further Dieleman, 2005, p. 130-38.
  • 23 While only this image clearly corresponds with Seth’s traditional iconography, there are several ot (...)
  • 24 Michel, 2001, p. 31.
  • 25 See further Barb and Griffith, 1960, p. 367-71. Barb suggests it is Anubis while Griffith advocates (...)

11Seth, who is often equated with Typhon in Greek texts, is a frequently employed Egyptian god in the Greek and Demotic magical papyri. His mythological sphere of influence ranged from storms, the desert, forces of chaos, foreign nations to rebels and was the strongest of the gods with a rampant sexual appetite.21 Invoked more often in the magical papyri than Isis and Osiris, he is most commonly deployed in spells that attract, bind, or execrate enemies or lovers.22 An image of Seth is preserved in one magical papyrus, PDM xii: 62 ff. (figure 5b).23 In this case, the name ‘Seth’ in Greek was labelled on his chest, which puts this identification beyond all doubt. The figure on gem 47 (figure 6a) resembles this figure of Seth in terms of apparel, posture and paraphernalia, but Michel identifies it as Anubis.24 This difficulty of distinguishing between Seth and Anubis is not new: the identity of the deity on the uterine gems has been particularly open to scholarly debate.25 The similarities between the images from PDM xii and gem 47 suggest that this is a case of a ‘cross-over figure’. Because the papyrus image is clearly labelled as Seth, however, I would suggest that Michel has misidentified the figure on gem 47. Re-identifying such figures as Seth eliminates the apparent disparity between the iconographies on the gems and the papyri.

  • 26 See Michel, 2001, p. 29.
  • 27 See for the CT spell Faulkner, 1972, p. 138; for the BD spells Faulkner, 1985, p. 60-61 and p. 101- (...)
  • 28 See gems 24, 566-67, 568-70 and 577 in Michel, 2001, p. 15, 329, 320 and 333 respectively.

12Turning to another example, Michel draws a parallel from a mythical episode in Papyrus Jumilhac, in which Anubis contends with Seth, who is manifest as a serpent form to reinforce her view that the serpent on gem 44 should be identified as Seth and the god as Anubis (figure 6b).26 Just as compelling and considerably better known, however, is Seth’s role as the defender of the sun bark against the serpent demon Aepep, also known by the Greek derivative term Apophis (figure 7a). References to Seth’s battle against Aepep are found throughout the Pharaonic and the Ptolemaic periods, ranging from the Coffin Texts (CT: 160) to the Book of the Dead (BD: 39 and 108), the Contendings of Horus and Seth, as well as Papyrus Bremner-Rhind and the Demotic Drama of Horus and Seth.27 The fact that this myth is known in the Ptolemaic period is one of several reasons for us to suspect that the transmission of Egyptian iconography onto the gems occurred during this period. Indeed the earliest gems to show Egyptian iconography date from the Ptolemaic period.28 One gem at the Petrie Museum (figure 7b) depicts a god grasping a serpent (as in the case of the image on gem 44) and the god’s name in Greek — CHT — is clearly labelled above the image. This calls the identification of the deity rendered on gem 44 as Anubis into question. When we compare the motif on the gem from the Petrie Museum with gem 45 in the British Museum’s collection (figure 6c) we have an exact match: both deities grasp a serpent in one hand and hold an ankh in the other hand. A comparison of British Museum gems 44 and 45 with the gem at the Petrie Museum therefore makes Seth a more likely candidate for the deity rendered on all three of these artefacts.

  • 29 Michel, 2001, p. 26; see PDM Supp. 101-30 for spells that portray Anubis as a warden of souls or sp (...)
  • 30 See further Zazoff, 1983, Table 112, nos. 4.54 and 5.54
  • 31 I employ the translation by Faulkner, 1969, p. 113-14.
  • 32 Translated by Faulkner, 1972, p. 69-72.
  • 33 Quoted by Gaudard, 2005, p. 225-26, taken from Faulkner, 1969, p. 200.
  • 34 Michel, 2001, p. 26.
  • 35 Translated in Betz, 1992, p. 221.
  • 36 For Sethian epithets see Dieleman, 2005, p. 136-38.
  • 37 P. Berlin 8278c. 1. x+9; translated in Gaudard, 2005, p. 81.

13Three further gems may also portray Seth rather than Anubis. Gems 40, 41, and 42 depict a deity carrying a mummy on his shoulders (figure 6d-f). Michel considers this figure to be Anubis, carrying the Osiris mummy, in conformity with his role as psychopompos, the guide of departed souls.29 She cites, for comparison, an image of Anubis mummifying Osiris from the magical papyri (figure 7c). The degree of correlation between the two motifs is not immediately apparent. The motif on British Museum gems 40-42 differs considerably from both the papyrus image and from Pharaonic iconography, where the mummy lies on a leonine embalming table (figure 2). One might argue that since the gems were smaller artefacts perhaps the image required simplification. Yet the same motif from the papyrus image does exist on several other gems, one collected by Petrie (figure 8a) and two magical gems in the Bibliothèque Nationale (figure 8b-c) so perhaps simplification was not an issue.30 There is a mythological alternative that might better account for the imagery on gems 40-42. From the Pyramid Texts (c. 2375- c. 2181) onwards Seth is punished for his misdeeds by carrying Osiris’ body on his shoulders. A spell from the Pyramid Texts states: ‘… Horus has laid hold of Seth and has set him under you [i.e. Osiris] on your behalf so that he may lift you up…’ (PT: 356 §581).31 A further parallel is found in the Coffin Texts (c. 2055- c. 1650): ‘… raise yourself … Seth may not exult over you … when you are placed on his back… when he supported you on his shoulders…’ (CT: 74 §308-9).32 While these texts date from the earliest periods of Egyptian history and the gems from Late Antiquity, the imagery on gems 40-42 matches these texts precisely. Further corroboration of this myth is required from more contemporaneous texts. Seth carrying Osiris as punishment is very well attested in Pharaonic texts: ‘… and Seth will never be free from carrying you, O Osiris’ (PT 532: §1258c).33 The sun and palm leaf motifs were integral to the images on gems 40-42 and were symbols of eternity common in funerary cult.34 The eternal nature of Seth’s punishment, however, provides a reason for their inclusion on images of the latter. A spell from the magical papyri (PDM xiv: 451-58) alludes to the carrying of the Osiris mummy although Seth is not explicitly invoked.35 The magical papyri, however, contain a number of clear Sethian references in a variety of spells.36 During the first few centuries CE when these spells were being composed, carrying the Osiris mummy was still a fairly well known motif. The Demotic Drama of Horus and Seth is instructive. Here Seth is the victim of the punishment: ‘I made Seth into a bark carrying Osiris in the fourth month’. François Gaudard dates this text to the reign of Ptolemy VI (180-145).37 It is feasible that the iconography on gems 40-42 may well depict this scene rather than that of Anubis embalming Osiris.

14Comparison with Egyptian ritual and mythological texts noted above demonstrates that Seth is usually a more appropriate candidate than Anubis for the god shown on several gems since the imagery on the gems correlates well with his traditional mythological roles. Seth is then perhaps another ‘cross-over figure’ between the gems and papyri. This case study indicates that what Janowitz considers two very separate traditions are likely to be two aspects of the same Late Antique magical tradition and that they are thus more closely related than has been hitherto realised.

4. Pharaonic iconography in the magical papyri

  • 38 PGM XII/PDM xii and PGM XIV/PDM xiv; see Dieleman, 2005, p. 285-94.

15While not every image from the magical papyri is derived solely from Egyptian art forms, quite a few clearly belong to an Egyptian milieu. Depictions of Seth and Anubis, as noted above, are good examples but are by no means the only cases where Pharaonic imagery was transferred to gems and papyri in the Graeco-Roman period (332 BCE-CE 395). Jacco Dieleman has shown that Egyptian priests were involved with the composition of both the bilingual magical papyri.38 Any iconographic parallels between the papyri and the gems, whose iconography derives from a Pharaonic milieu, would be strong indications of priestly involvement with the designs on the gems as well as the magical papyri. Thus a three-way comparison between Pharaonic iconography, the magical papyri and the magical gems is necessary to establish whether or not similar imagery was transferred from Pharaonic art and employed on both the gems and the papyri. This section therefore explores iconography from the magical papyri derivative of Pharaonic archetypes and introduces gems with analogous motifs. We noted an image of Anubis from the papyri (figure 7c) derived from Pharaonic iconography (figure 2) and found on the gems (figure 8). Additionally the previous section introduced an image of Seth from the papyri (figure 5b) and found on a gem (figure 6a) as well as another Sethian image on a Pharaonic papyrus (figure 7a) most likely found on the gems (figure 6b-c). I now outline a survey of further iconographical connections between the papyri and the gems, which is hitherto lacking in the scholarship.

16Other Egyptian deities found in the papyri include a seated figure in the traditional Egyptian garb on PGM XII: 376 (figure 9a). While the deity is unidentifiable, the rendering of the wig with the classic protruding Uraeus serpent found on Egyptian headgear shows the image’s Egyptian origins with little cause for doubt. The sceptre, moreover, appears to be a fusion of the crook and flail motifs associated with Osiris (figure 9b). The gems also portray Egyptian deities seated on thrones in the traditional manner (figure 10a) although the rendering of the thrones is more accurate on gems than on papyrus. The three papyrus images thus far noted—Anubis embalming, Seth holding two spears, and the seated deity—derive from PDM xii, studied by Dieleman, which he shows to be the product of the Egyptian priesthood.

  • 39 For an overview of Bes’ popularity see Wilkinson, 2003, p. 103.

17The image of the god Bes is also found on gems (figure 10b) and papyri (figs. 11a-b); both show a debt to monumental iconography (figure 11c). As we can see from these images on both the gems and papyri, Bes’ crown was simplified into a three-pronged headpiece; the monumental crown (figure 11c) has three main plumes. The overarching correspondence between the papyrus image (PGM VIII: 64-110) in figure 11a and the monumental image in figure 11c is striking. Both depict Bes brandishing a knife with the same raised arm; the staff in figure 11a seems an amalgamation of the solar disk and serpent on figure 11c. The second papyrus image of Bes (PGM XXXIX: 1-21) in figure 11b and the image on British Museum gem 577 in figure 10b also display a strong resemblance. Both denote the naval and nipples with three circles as well depicting Bes’s hands on his hips. Figure 10b also depicts his phallus that is more exaggerated in figure 11b and was originally present on the monumental image. Such correlations imply a common source of images shared by both papyri and gems; the renderings of Bes alone are good evidence for the idea that images in both media were designed within the same milieu. Given the sheer popularity of Bes and the ubiquity of his iconography, however, it would be difficult to assess the milieu from which Bes entered the magical papyri.39

  • 40 For the text see Betz, 1992, p. 299.

18Osiris is also particularly common on the gems as a reclining mummy, but some gems depict him standing (figure 10c). The latter motif may support identifying an unusual image on PGM LXXVIII (figure 12a) as Osiris. This spell for attraction seeks a successful outcome by not allowing the victim any rest as ‘Typhon (i.e. Seth) denied Osiris sleep’.40 Seth, as we noted, is not depicted in such a fashion so Osiris is likely the deity depicted thereon.

  • 41 For the text see Betz, 1992, p. 313 and for the function of the spell see Sijpesteijn, 1976, p. 108 (...)
  • 42 See Gems 342 and 343 and PDM xiv: 594-620; PGM XXVIII, a-c; and PGM CXII.

19Animals (such as scorpions and jackals), as well as Egyptian deities, are common on these ‘cross-over’ types. The scorpion found on gem 344 (figure 10d) corresponds to that drawn on PGM CXIII (figure 12b). The text of the spell is highly lacunose but scholars are content to identify it as an anti-scorpion spell.41 This indicates a shared ritual tradition since both gems and papyri might employ scorpion images as a means to protect the client from scorpions.42 Another animal found on both gems and papyri is the ibis. Although it is common on the gems (figure 10e), only one image is extant from the magical papyri (figure 12c).

  • 43 For these epithets see Dieleman, 2005, p. 135-38.
  • 44 For a discussion of the attributes and invocations of Seth in the papyri see Dieleman, 2005, p. 130 (...)
  • 45 Grumach, 1970, p. 170-71.

20A papyrus image taken from PGM VII: 940-68, which is hard to identify, comprises two jackal-headed entities protruding from what initially resembles an envelope with a serpent drawn underneath (figure 12d). In the accompanying text, Seth is invoked, while the Sethian epithets ubiquitous in magical papyri surround the image. This identification is thus secure.43 Furthermore, the spell includes other appellations of Seth, such as ‘you who are in the everlasting air’, used widely in the papyri.44 Irene Grumach proposed that the image derives from iconographies found in the seventh hour of an Egyptian text known as the Book of Amduat.45 One of the scenes includes four coffins with a human head superimposed on each end of the lid. Grumach equates the snake at the bottom of the papyrus image in PGM VII with Apophis, who is also depicted in this scene. There are, however, problems with this hypothesis. The heads in the Amduat scene are not only human, rather than asinine as in PGM VII, but also face each other in the Amduat scene, rather than facing outwards as in PGM VII. The various figures in the Amduat scene, moreover, are spread along the length of the register and are not found clustered together in the manner of PGM VII. The parallels with the Book of Amduat are nonetheless of interest and I follow Grumach’s belief that this text may have inspired some imagery found in Late Antique magical contexts. In this particular case, however, I am not convinced that we can propose this text as the source with certainty. While Grumach focused only on parallels in magical papyri, I will consider analogous motifs found in the magical gems.

21A near analogue to the image on PGM VII is gem 288, which depicts a mummiform deity with two jackal heads and two pairs of wings (figure 13a). While at first glance it seems a poor match to the papyrus image, there are some common features. First, the two jackal heads are oriented in the same direction on both images; secondly the criss-cross design of the mummiform figure might relate to the cross design on figure 12d; thirdly, there is a line beneath the mummiform figure (figure 13a) and a linear serpent underneath the ‘box’ shown in figure 12d. Are there any other gems that display any similarities with the image from the papyrus? The Sethian elements in the text of PGM VII assist our search for an analogous gem motif. One group of gems utilises an image depicting a jackal’s head protruding from a solid object and this image has connections with Seth. Most of the gems do not render the jackal’s head particularly well but one does represent it in sufficient detail to verify that the jackal’s head was simplified beyond recognition in the other examples.

  • 46 For an overview of the uterus motif see further Michel, 2001, p. 220.
  • 47 Gardiner, 1927, p. 517 sign U16; it is used as a determinative in the words ‘sledge’, ‘copper’ and (...)
  • 48 Cf gems: 353-55, 358-78 in Michel, 2001, p. 223-38.
  • 49 Michel, 2001, p. 240.

22Gem 377 depicts the uterus form in the lower half of the rendering (figure 13b). The uterus form seems to consist of a circular top element with a rectangular lower element from which the jackal’s head protrudes, on the right hand side.46 The rectangle with the jackal’s head is actually a recognisable hieroglyph (figure 14).47 The motif tends to be simplified and on gem 368 (figure 13c) the design was made to be symmetrical as the circular element was separated from the rectangle. Does this form of evolution account for the image from PGM VII (figure 12c)? It is possible that the scribe saw a symmetrical version of the uterus-form motif and drew the rectangular section in PGM VII with two protruding jackal heads. Furthermore, the serpent motif is found on all the perimeters of the gems.48 Two gems from the uterus group also have Sethian features. Gem 379 depicts Seth standing atop the uterus form accompanied with a Greek inscription, which Michel reconstructs as: ‘Contract yourself, uterus, so Seth-Typhon does not obtain control of you’ (figure 13d).49 Gem 380 (figure 13e) also seems to depict Sethian figures standing on the uterus-form, but it does not name Seth in the inscription. Gem 46 (figure 13f) seems another case where Seth has not been identified, as he is not named in an inscription. Yet the inscription from gem 379 (figure 13d) dispels all doubt that the deity shown thereon is Seth. By comparing gems 379 and 380 with gem 46, we can see that these are all depictions of Seth. The uterus-form gems do indeed have a connection with the god Seth and perhaps these images are related to the image from PGM VII.

23This survey of the Egyptian iconography in the magical papyri shows that parallels with the magical gems are not exceptional cases but rather evidence for a more general trend. In the next section I survey traditional Pharaonic Egyptian iconography in the gems.

5. Pharaonic iconography on Late Antique gems

  • 50 See Smith, 1979, passim.
  • 51 See below the case of the Nine-headed Bes iconography, instructions for which can be found in the B (...)

24Now that I have posited a shared tradition between the papyri and the gems on the one hand and between the papyri and Pharaonic iconography on the other, I will compare the imagery on the gems directly with Pharaonic monumental motifs. Many motifs known from monuments are transmitted onto the magical gems of Late Antiquity. An essential characteristic of such monumental iconography is that the images can be copied by others onto gems without any written instructions, which scholars assume were generally needed for the production of the magical gems.50 While designs copied from temple walls did not require the consultation of written instructions, some iconographies found on the gems have been found on papyrus with written instructions.51 This section summarises the clearest cases and culminates with a discussion of the agents of this transmission.

25The image of the crocodile god Sobek on gem 566 (figure 13g) corresponds closely to a rendering of the god at the temple of Kom Ombo (figure 15). The crown, staff, and collar are identically rendered in both images. The wig and the item in the god’s right hand are also similar. It seems likely that, on gem 566, Sobek holds an ankh, as was ubiquitous on Egyptian temple walls. The only significant difference between the two images is the god’s stance. Whereas on the temple wall he is seated, on the gem he is standing. The traditional throne motif found on the temple scene was also transmitted into late antique iconography. We find examples on the gems (figure 10a) and in the papyri, as observed in the last section, when discussing the unidentified seated deity on PGM XII: 376 ff. (figure 9a).

26Another case in which the imagery of a gem seems to derive from a Pharaonic motif is that of ‘sema tawy’ the ‘Uniters of the Two Lands’. This pair of deities in question is Horus and Seth. The iconography of gem 274 (figure 13h) seems derivative of a motif found on a number of stone blocks, perhaps from a temple, an example of which is found in the Cairo Museum (figure 16). The only difference is in the theriomorphic depictions of Horus: he is portrayed as a falcon-headed deity on the stone image and as a lion-headed deity on the gem. The circular form at the top of the ‘sema’ symbol, which both gods grasp on gem 274, seems to be the remnants of the cartouche containing the Pharaoh’s name in the temple rendering. The long features descending from the outermost hands of the deities on the gem might well be the rope depicted on the image from the stone blocks.

27The process of transmission was not limited to images influenced by temple iconography: traditional imagery from private monumental stelai also appears on the magical gems. While we cannot deny the strong Greek influence on the iconography of gem 133 (figure 13i), it is still clear that its overall design is derivative of traditional Egyptian motifs. The arc of heaven and the two pillars of the horizon are at once apparent. So too is the pair of winged figures. Each of them holds together a circular disk and each has one wing facing in the opposite direction to the other. This is a Hellenized form of the winged disk seen clearly in the Egyptian funerary stelai (e.g. figure 17) as well as the arc of heaven and one of the two pillars of the horizon.

  • 52 Allen, 2005, p. 64.
  • 53 See further Jane Draycott’s discussion of these cippi in the previous chapter of this volume.

28Another type of traditional Egyptian stele was ‘the cippus of Horus’ (figure 1a) which was discussed in the first section of this study, where I noted that this type of ritual paraphernalia was also miniaturized for personal usage as an amulet (figure 1b). There are also examples of this motif transferred onto the magical gems (e.g. figure 18a). Evidence for miniaturising the cippus motif on amulets comes from as early as the 25th Dynasty (c. 747-c. 656) while the relevant gems date as early as the first century.52 On the gem version, Horus is depicted in the centre of this threatening host seated rather than standing and grasping dangerous animals in his hands. The motif is nonetheless easily recognisable as a cippus derivative.53

29Gem 158 exemplifies a curious case of adaptation from Pharaonic iconography (figure 18a). The image on this gem is an oval shaped composition, outlined by the ouroboros serpent with its tail in its mouth, which depicts a series of noxious animals. This particular gem is unusual in that it is only a partial selection of a fuller Pharaonic motif comprising the god Bes with multiple wings and symbols of power astride a plinth on which the ouroboros was depicted with the series of animals rendered therein (e.g. figure 19a). The partial selection on gem 158 is unusual in that it omits the protective power itself, i.e. Bes, in favour of the series of noxious animals. All other examples of this motif on the gems, as we shall see in the next section, however, depict both Bes and the ouroboros ‘plinth’.

  • 54 See Gahlin, 2001, p. 203.

30Another Pharaonic artefact may have indirectly influenced the motif comprising the ouroboros encircling various dangerous animals, which was used in isolation from the Bes image. A series of threatening animals was the traditional content of ancient Egyptian magical wands dating between c. 2181-c. 1650 (for an example see figure 19b). Several animals depicted on gem 158 such as the lion, the snakes and the hippopotamus can be seen on the wands. These wands, however, do not include the ouroboros serpent. Perhaps gem 158 is a fusion of these two motifs? Regrettably this point will remain inconclusive since the wands are not found in the later periods of Egyptian history.54

  • 55 Gahlin, 2001, p. 75. See the discussion below for the scorpion image in the papyri.
  • 56 Michel, 2001, p. 218. For the hieroglyph see Kurth, 2008, p. 134.

31As Lucia Gahlin has observed, the scorpion form amulet is indeed ancient: forms have been found which date back to the Old Kingdom (c. 2686-c. 2181) and the use of the scorpion on both the papyri and the gems was noted in the last section.55 Gem 344 (figure 10d) is one of several examples that we may compare with a Pharaonic scorpion amulet design such as that in figure 20a. In fact these two scorpion images match perfectly; even the position of the tail is identical. An image of Isis and or Selket is intriguing with regard to the theriomorphic depiction (see figure 18c). While the goddess retains her distinctive head, headdress and arms, the rest of her body is in scorpion form. While some may be quick to assume that this image is the result of a hybrid image of the sort found in Late Antique ritual, gem 345 corresponds closely to a known Pharaonic bronze figure depicting a scorpion-headed goddess in the Louvre (figure 20b). The gem portrays Isis/Selket with two legs by means of a duplicated scorpion’s tail, and the goddess holds the double cobra image. The motif of the double-headed cobra is similar to a Ptolemaic hieroglyphic sign comprising a man holding the same double-headed cobra that symbolises the place name ‘Qis’.56

  • 57 See Hornung, 1999, fig. 34. Hornung's work only contains images of the New Kingdom books for the af (...)
  • 58 Hornung, 1999, p. 30.

32I conclude this section with the iconography of three gems that poses a significant question with regard to the transmission of Pharaonic motifs onto such artefacts. Those familiar with Egyptian artwork of the 19th Dynasty (c. 1295-c. 1186) will recognize the similarity between the posture of a figure on gem 425 (figure 22a) and Egyptian tomb harvesting scenes (e.g. figure 21). Another pair of gems (9 and 10) also has funerary derived iconography (figure 22b-c). Each depicts an Osirian mummiform figure encircled by the ouroboros serpent and one has a scarab beetle near the mummy. This image recalls a Pharaonic illustration from the sixth hour of the Book of Amduat carved on royal tomb walls (figure 24).57 The serpent encircles the deceased figure and the scarab beetle is found on the mummy’s head. While these royal tombs date from the New Kingdom, the Book of Amduat has a long history and during the 21st Dynasty (c. 1069-c. 945) it was adopted for use by Egyptian priests of Amun in Thebes for their coffins. The Book of Amduat gained a new lease of life during the 26th Dynasty (664-525) and was still being used on coffins from the early Ptolemaic period.58

  • 59 See further Herbin, 2008, plates 42-43 (P. BM EA 10283); 44-45 (P. BM EA 10303); 74-75 (P. BM EA 10 (...)
  • 60 See Meeks, 2006, p. 173-75.
  • 61 Quack in Szpakowska, 2006, p. 180.

33The motif of the corpse surrounded by a serpent is also used as a hieroglyph in the first and second centuries CE and is found on several funerary papyri at the British Museum, all of which are from Thebes.59 The mythical episode of Osiris’ head being protected by a serpent has a long tradition and the scarab on the head is a recurring motif in Egyptian thought.60 I have already mentioned that the scarab was a bad omen in Egyptian dream interpretation since dreaming of a scarab on one’s head foreshadowed an approaching death.61 On a tomb representation, however, what motif could be more beneficial for the deceased than a confirmation of their readiness for the afterlife?

  • 62 Darnell, 2004, p. 387-90 and pl. 29; for the Abrasax gems see further Michel, 2001, p. 115-48, gems (...)

34One further example of Egyptian iconography found exclusively on royal tomb walls is instructive. There are three representations of the giant deity representing the union of the gods Ra and Osiris before the sun rises at dawn. One of these depictions from the tomb of Ramesses VI renders the god as a solar disk with two rearing serpents as legs. John Darnell has concluded that this image is a Pharaonic Egyptian precursor to the ubiquitous images of Abraxas found on the Late Antique gems. He convincingly outlines that the iconography of Abraxas (a solar deity with two serpents for legs) derives from his solar characteristics also present in representations of the giant deity in the Enigmatic Netherworld Books of the Solar-Osirian Unity.62

6. Egyptian priests as agents of transmission

  • 63 Taylor in Johnston, 2004, p. 474.
  • 64 Taylor in Johnston, 2004, p. 474.
  • 65 Taylor in Johnston, 2004, p. 474.

35These last few gems present interesting problems in our understanding of the agents of transmission. While temple walls and artefacts such as stelai were on display for a fairly large number of people to see, representations on tombs were not as accessible. It is easy to imagine that, once the deceased was interred, the tomb was permanently sealed, but in fact Egyptian tombs were not generally built solely for the benefit of a single individual. As John Taylor observes, most tombs would house the bodies of family members as well as the deceased in question.63 Given that tombs were commissioned for more than one recipient and that during the major religious festivals the tombs would be visited by relatives64 there must have been a reasonable awareness of the artwork found in the tomb itself. Not all funerary cults, however, were maintained by family relatives and the more lasting cults were conducted by local priests, who had been provided with the means (usually a tract of land) in exchange for their services.65 In these cases it would be difficult to attribute the transmission of these motifs to the activity of priests alone.

  • 66 Taylor in Johnston, 2004, p. 474.
  • 67 Dieleman, 2005, p. 82.
  • 68 Dieleman, 2005, p. 84-85.

36The unique Abrasax motif and the more common iconographies from the Book of Amduat, however, do betray priestly activity. Compositions produced exclusively for the walls of royal tombs were considerably more inaccessible. Funerary cult was not conducted in the tomb, which for obvious security reasons had to be sealed, but within a specially built mortuary temple.66 Access to royal tombs, therefore, was extremely restricted, save for official tomb inspections. Jacco Dieleman observes: ‘cultic texts were kept in the House of Life or, in the case of the Netherworld Books, laid out on the walls of the hidden and closed-off tombs of the New Kingdom pharaohs’.67 The fact that the ‘democratization’ of the Book of Amduat occurred owing to the Theban priests of Amun adopting the composition for their own purpose seems telling. Likewise the Enigmatic Netherworld Book of the Solar-Osirian Unity only survives in three copies all of which are found in royal tombs. The fact that iconography such as ‘Abrasax’ on these exclusively royal texts became common on Late Antique gems seems a clear indicator of priestly activity. This seems all the more likely when we note that the texts were written in enigmatic Egyptian, presumably the field of specialists throughout Pharaonic history; this kind of Egyptian writing ‘remained a marginal phenomenon’.68

  • 69 Quack in Ryholt, 2006, p. 60 notes the similarity between these images and the gems in Michel’s edi (...)

37While the shared iconographical traditions between the papyri and the gems discussed above suggest that only Egyptian priests were capable of having access to and producing the images on the gems, we require further evidence to prove that these designs were indeed the work of the Egyptian priesthood. Fortuitously enough, we have exactly that: one of the motifs found on both magical gems (see Michel 2001: 100-107, gems 158-69) and a Pharaonic amulet (figure 19a) corresponds to an image found on several Egyptian papyri.69 Gems 158-69 display varying levels of simplification. The element of this iconographic type most prone to simplification is the elliptical structure encasing a host of dangerous animals. Gem 159 (figure 23a) displays the most ornate case and gems 167 (figure 23b) and 168 (figure 23c) show how this element is usually reduced to a series of ovular designs within the elliptical form.

  • 70 For an earlier image of the papyrus see Pinch, 1994, p. 37. Quack in Ryholt, 2006, p. 60 provides d (...)
  • 71 For the Brooklyn papyrus, see Sauneron, 1970; for the British Museum example, see Pinch, 1994, p. 3 (...)

38The precise parallels with the Egyptian papyri, which sometimes include descriptions of the rendering of the motif in the main text as well as the image itself, are remarkable. There are five such papyri known to me: the Illustrated Magical Papyrus of Brooklyn (cited hereafter as the Brooklyn Papyrus), a similar papyrus in the British Museum, BM EA 10296 (figure 25),70 a recently published textual witness perhaps from the temple library at Tebtunis, an image also found in the collection at Tebtunis, and, crucially, written instructions in PGM XII: 121-43.71 The textual witness published with other texts from Tebtunis does not have a corresponding image, while the papyrus at the British Museum comprises solely the image and no accompanying text. PGM XII: 121-43, preserves only written instructions for the image’s production and, unlike other cases in the Greek and Demotic magical papyri, there are no explicit notices such as ‘here is the figure’, which normally indicate the image was once present. The Greek instructions in PGM XII: 121-43, to my knowledge, are the only instructions extant; the Egyptian text in the Brooklyn Papyrus appears to be a description and is not found at the end of the spell with the rubric, where instructions in Egyptian ritual texts are normally found. The ‘Tebtunis’ textual witness does not preserve these descriptive passages found in the Brooklyn Papyrus. The Greek instructions in PGM XII: 121-43, read as follows:

39Take a linen cloth, and (according to Ostanes) with myrrh ink draw a figure on it which is human in appearance but having four wings, having the left arm outstretched along with the two wings, and having the other arm bent with the fist clenched. Then upon the head [draw] a royal headdress and a cloak over its arm, with two spirals on the cloak. Atop the head [draw] bull horns and to the buttocks a bird’s tail. Have its right hand held near its stomach and clenched, and on either ankle have a sword extended.

40Regrettably the description of the image in the Brooklyn Papyrus is fragmentary but I provide the following English translation from Serge Sauneron’s original French:

41… a man equipped with nine faces on a single neck, one being the face of Bes, one being the face of a ram, one being the face of a falcon, one being the face of a crocodile, one being the face of a hippopotamus, one being the face of a lion, one being the face of a bull, one being the face of a cynocephalus and one being the face of a cat. You present (?) [… a body] that is human with four wings [fixed on (?)] the arms, your behind is that of a falcon, […] your feet terminate in serpents, your arms are (equipped with) eyes, swords, and knives are in your hands, the Ankh, the ‘djed’ pillar, the ‘was’ sceptre are in your fist; a serpent rears itself on [your] knees, […] a scorpion. Your arms are surrounded by […]

42There are several similarities and differences between these two passages. Beginning with the differences, the Greek instructions omit any mention of the multiple heads found not only in the Egyptian papyrus illustrations but also on images engraved on the magical gems. The Greek text mentions swords protruding from the ankles, but these are not found on the two papyrus illustrations. This might be the result of confusing the two serpents rearing up on the deity’s knees. Finally the Greek text mentions only two arms, whereas the Egyptian papyrus images and the gem motifs portray the deity with four arms. The similarities, however, demonstrate that the Greek text is describing the nine-headed Bes motif. The illustrations on the Egyptian papyri and the motifs on the magical gems correspond with the directions of PGM XII, since the deity has four wings, an avian posterior and is mostly depicted in human form. The two bull’s horns mentioned in PGM XII are doubtless the two ram’s horns found crowning the deity in the Egyptian papyrus illustrations and the motifs on the magical gems.

  • 72 Sauneron, 1970, p. 5. For a palaeographical and linguistic investigation of the papyrus see p. 3-5.
  • 73 Quack in Ryholt, 2006, p. 54.

43I now turn to the images on the gems themselves. While the image on the Brooklyn papyrus is damaged, the identical motif on papyrus BM 10296 shows the correspondences between the papyri and the gems. The deity is multi-headed with a double pair of wings, holding a variety of staves. He stands upon an elliptical feature containing a selection of dangerous animals, including the serpent and the jackal, both of which are found on gem 159 (figure 23a). The remaining animals on the papyrus illustration comprise the hippopotamus, the lion and the crocodile. The other animals illustrated on gem 159 are not very easy to identify, but some include the scarab and either an ass or an antelope. Geraldine Pinch dates the British Museum papyrus to circa 4th-3rd centuries, corresponding to the period in which Pharaonic Egypt ends and the Ptolemaic period begins. As for the Illustrated Magical Papyrus of Brooklyn, Serge Sauneron prudently advocates a date that postdates the Saite Dynasty (664-525) and suggests it is contemporaneous with the first decades of the Ptolemaic period.72 Quack suggests that a plausible date for the papyrus at Copenhagen ranges between the late Ptolemaic and the early Roman period.73 Seemingly our papyri all date from around the Ptolemaic or the Roman period, which corresponds to the periods in which the magical gems were produced.

  • 74 Michel, 2001, p. 101 and p. 107.
  • 75 Gems 160-69; see Michel, 2001, p. 101-107.
  • 76 Kotansky in Betz, 1992, p. 158, footnote 38.
  • 77 Dieleman, 2005, passim.
  • 78 Dieleman, 2005, p. 48 n. 3.

44A cursory glance through Michel’s edition shows that the majority of the gems seem to date between the second and fourth centuries CE. Gem 159 dates from the second century CE while gems 167 and 168 date from the third century CE.74 The remaining gems in this subgroup all date to the third century CE and none of the examples in Michel date to the Ptolemaic period.75 Roy Kotansky’s observation that the passage from PGM XII is related to these Egyptian texts and the magical gems bearing the pantheistic Bes motif is highly significant for our understanding of their transmission.76 Not only are the instructions written in Greek, they also come from a papyrus that is demonstrably a product of the Egyptian priesthood.77 Both of the Egyptian papyri containing the Bes image were written in the hieratic script, knowledge of which by this period was restricted to Egyptian priests and used solely to compose religious texts.78 The instructions in PGM XII: 121-43 doubtless demonstrate that these traditional Egyptian texts, or lost variants thereof, were translated from Egyptian into Greek by Egyptian priests. Current dates of the Egyptian papyri range from post-Saite times to the early Roman period, all of which predate the gems extant in Michel’s edition. Without a thorough survey of all extant magical gems with the pantheistic Bes motif, we can only suggest that the motif became common on the gems once information from Egyptian papyri had been translated into Greek by the Egyptian priesthood. The Bes motif, however, could have been potentially copied by anyone with access to a papyrus illustration, without the need to understand the accompanying hieratic text, but again this is mere speculation. While the details of the motif’s transmission onto the gems remains sketchy, we can be certain that the Egyptian priesthood facilitated this transmission by translating Egyptian texts or perhaps composing texts describing the motif in Greek.

  • 79 In addition to those cited in this footnote below, Michel notes the possible presence of hieroglyph (...)

45While it seems very plausible that the Egyptian priesthood was responsible for creating the motif on these particular gems, can we say the same for all of the images on the gems that we have hitherto discussed? We would need more evidence to infer that this transmission of images from priestly sources onto the gems is part of a broader phenomenon. The magical gems frequently depict hieroglyphics that were only in use during the Ptolemaic and Roman periods, but not previously.79 A depiction of the god Horus on gem 20 is instructive (figure 26a). The god is depicted as a falcon seemingly seated on a semi-circular basket symbol with a winged sun disk filling the space behind. This motif seems derivative of two hieroglyphic combinations known from Ptolemaic temple texts (figure 27a). The gem could be read as ‘Horus, Lord of Behedeti’. The second hieroglyph in figure 27a means ‘lord’ and the first means ‘Horus of Behedeti’.

46Gem 21 (figure 26b) may have been influenced by one particular hieroglyphic that is translated as ‘Horus Behedeti, the great god, Lord of the Sky’ (figure 27b). The match between gem and symbol is not exact but they share the motif of someone presenting an item to the god Horus. Again this symbol is not used before the Ptolemaic period.

47The posture of the deity in gem 14 (figure 26c) assists our identification of the goddess as Isis. This may in fact be Shentait, a well known manifestation of Isis in the Ptolemaic period. The goddess on gem 14 is kneeling like Shentait in figure 27c and their positioning of the arms is similar in both depictions. The long hair is visible in both renditions and the form of the crown is the only major difference between them. In figure 27c the crown takes the form of the Egyptian symbol for ‘throne’ or ‘seat’, which was the typical Pharaonic crown accorded to Isis. On gem 14 the crown comprises three elements resting on ram’s horns, which are commonly found on headgear of gods rendered on temple walls of the Ptolemaic and Roman periods.

  • 80 See the description of this group in Michel, 2001, p. 255.
  • 81 See Gardiner, 1927, p. 470.
  • 82 See for both forms Kurth, 2008, I, p. 251 number 64 and p. 252 number 67a.
  • 83 See Kurth, 2008, I, p. 251 for all the meanings of the symbol.

48The final gem 406 (figure 26d) has been characterised by Michel as belonging to the ‘heart-uterus’ type.80 The significance of the ibis’ presence on the motif can only be fully appreciated once the hieroglyphic uses of ibis symbols (shown in figure 27d) are taken into account. The first form of the sign was employed in the Pharaonic period, with the meaning ‘to find’, transliterated as ‘gem’.81 In the Ptolemaic system, both the first and second forms could be used to mean ‘to find’.82 Like many other signs in the Ptolemaic system, however, the second form could be used for a number of different meanings such as ‘rekh’- ‘to know’, ‘netjer’- ‘god’, ‘hebi’- ‘ibis’, ‘Djehuty’- ‘Thoth’, ‘khemnu’- ‘eight’ and most importantly for our inquiry ‘ib’- ‘heart’.83 Thus the new Ptolemaic meanings of the ibis symbol shows that the depiction of the ibis on gems was designed to protect the heart. Only a priest conversant with the Ptolemaic writing system would have originally had the wherewithal to understand a motif with this symbolic meaning.

  • 84 Darnell, 2004, p. 2.
  • 85 Van der Horst, 1987, p. 73. For Horapollo see Sbordone, 1946, p. 81-82 and for Egyptian writing in (...)

49The use of this particular hieroglyphic symbolism brings us to the question of the general significance of Ptolemaic symbols on magical gems. There are several reasons why their appearance on the gems is interesting. First, many of the motifs on the gems derive from hieroglyphics not in use prior to the Ptolemaic period. Such hieroglyphics serve as a terminus post quem for the transmission of some of these motifs onto the magical gems. Since many symbols from the Ptolemaic and Roman periods were not in use in earlier times, it would appear that the priests familiar with the Ptolemaic writing system were responsible for the designs of some Egyptianised gems. As John Darnell states: ‘During Late Antiquity, the number of those who commanded the hieroglyphic writing system dwindled, and those who dealt with hieroglyphs at all were increasingly the higher echelons of the priesthood’.84 Secondly, the significance of the Ptolemaic system is that, by and large, it was this particular phase of the Egyptian hieroglyphic script that was transmitted into Greek literature via various Hieroglyphica; the definition of the ibis symbol as ‘heart’, for example, is found in several works in Greek such as Horapollo’s Hieroglyphica I, 36 and in Aelian’s On the Nature of Animals X, 29.85 The implication is that at some point in time, Greek ritual practitioners may well have had access to some of the Ptolemaic signs through Greek works. They would have been just as able, therefore, to appreciate some of the symbolic meanings of the gems that formerly were only within the purview of the Egyptian priesthood.

7. Conclusion

  • 86 Dieleman, 2005, p. 285-94.
  • 87 See the conclusions drawn by Dieleman on the period of transmission of Egyptian ritual practices in (...)

50Clearly there is a direct link between priestly activity and Egyptianised magical gems with regard to several motifs found thereon. Some motifs are found on magical papyri known to be products of the Egyptian priesthood, such as the images shown on PDM xii. (figs. 5d and 7c).86 Other motifs, found on both gems and papyri, clearly derive from traditional Egyptian iconography on monuments, whether temple walls or various classes of stelai. The pantheistic Bes motif, in particular, is found on a number of papyri written in the hieratic script, which in itself is an indicator of priestly composition, as by this late period in Egyptian history, the hieratic script was used only for religious texts that concerned sacred knowledge and was not used for any other purpose. The Egyptian script used for day-to-day documents (and exceptionally for some late religious texts) was demotic. A number of the gems depict hieroglyphics only in use from the Ptolemaic period onwards. Only the Egyptian priesthood would have had (and required) training in the Ptolemaic script. Finally the period in which Egyptian priests were transmitting traditional Egyptian lore onto the magical papyri coincides with the period in which the magical gems were produced.87 Combining these observations I would advocate that there is a very strong possibility that the earliest cases of iconographic transmission on the gems was the result of the Egyptian priestly endeavour. I also noted in the first section of this chapter instances of miniaturisation of traditional Egyptian monumental motifs earlier than the Ptolemaic period, so it is clear that these practices were well established from the late Pharaonic era onwards.

51This does not mean, however, that the priesthood was responsible for producing every magical gem with these motifs hereafter. Egyptian priests such as Chaeremon and other individuals such as Horapollo composed works on Egyptian hieroglyphics that replicated many Ptolemaic symbols. From these works, a practitioner able to read Greek could also apprehend some symbolic values inherent in the magical gems. Once a motif had been inscribed on a gem, it is impossible to determine the identity of the manufacturers of subsequent gems with that motif. One matter of which we may be certain is that assertions of Janowitz and other scholars that the gems and the papyri are from different traditions undermine the close relationship discernable between Egyptianised motifs found in both classes of artefact. The misidentification of certain deities found on the gems, such as the god Seth, no doubt exacerbates the trend to treat gems and papyri in isolation from each other.

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Quack, J.F., 2006b, A Black Cat from the Right and a Scarab on Your Head: New Sources for Ancient Egyptian Divination, in K. Szpakowska (ed.), Through a Glass Darkly: Magic, Dreams and Prophecy in Ancient Egypt, p. 175-88.

Sauneron, S., 1970, Le Papyrus Magique Illustré de Brooklyn, Oxford.

Sbordone, F., 1946, Hori Apollinis Hieroglyphica: Saggio introduttivo edizione critica del testo e commento, Naples.

Schwartz, J., 1981, Papyri Magicae Graecae und Magische Gemmen, in M.J. Vermaseren (ed.), Die Orientalischen Religionen im Römerreich, p. 485-509.

Sijpesteijn, P., 1976, Amulett gegen Skorpionsstich, ZPE, 22, p. 108.

Smith, J.Z., 2001, Trading Places, in M.W. Meyer and P.A. Mirecki (eds.), Ancient Magic and Ritual Power, Leiden p. 13-27.

Smith, M., 1979, Relations between Magical Papyri and Magical Gems, Actes du XVe Congrès International de Papyrologie, p. 129-36.

Taylor, J., 2004, Death, the Afterlife, and Other Last Things. Egypt: Earlier Period, in Johnston, S.I. (ed.), Religions of the Ancient World: A Guide, Cambridge, MA, p. 471-75.

Van Der Horst, P.W., 1987, Chaeremon: Egyptian Priest and Stoic Philosopher. The fragments collected and translated with explanatory notes, Leiden.

Wilkinson, R.H., 1994, Symbol and Magic in Egyptian Art, London.

Wilkinson, R.H., 2003, The Complete Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Egypt, London.

Zazoff, P., 1983, Die Antiken Gemmen, Handbuch der Archäologie, Munich.

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Annexe

Figure 1. Drawings of (a) a cippus of Horus (ca. 300-30) and (b) a cippus amulet (ca. 500-200). New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art 20.2.23 and 57.143.

Figure 1. Drawings of (a) a cippus of Horus (ca. 300-30) and (b) a cippus amulet (ca. 500-200). New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art 20.2.23 and 57.143.

Author’s line drawings after Allen 2005, p. 63-64.

Figure 2. Anubis embalming from the tomb of Sennedjem. Tomb Wall Painting from Deir el-Medina, 19th Dynasty (ca.1295-1186).

Figure 2. Anubis embalming from the tomb of Sennedjem. Tomb Wall Painting from Deir el-Medina, 19th Dynasty (ca.1295-1186).

© Ancient Art and Architecture Collection.

Figure 3. Illustrations of mummified figures on a bier, on Ptolemaic amulets in London, Petrie Museum.

Figure 3. Illustrations of mummified figures on a bier, on Ptolemaic amulets in London, Petrie Museum.

Author’s line drawing after Petrie, 1914, pl. VII, 87a and c.

Figure 4. Illustrations of amulets on a papyrus, ca. 330-30. London, BM 10098, sheet 12.

Figure 4. Illustrations of amulets on a papyrus, ca. 330-30. London, BM 10098, sheet 12.

© Trustees of the British Museum.

Figure 5. Illustrations on papyri: (a) a scarab on PGM II, 64ff. (Berlin, inv. 5026, 4th c. CE); and (b) Seth on PDM xii, 62 ff. (London-Leiden, 2nd-3rd c. CE).

Figure 5. Illustrations on papyri: (a) a scarab on PGM II, 64ff. (Berlin, inv. 5026, 4th c. CE); and (b) Seth on PDM xii, 62 ff. (London-Leiden, 2nd-3rd c. CE).

Author’s line drawings after Betz, 1992, p. 102, 289, 17, and 169.

Figure 6. Drawings of the obverses of gems 47, 44, 45, 40, 41, and 42 (3rd c. CE). London, BM G120 (EA 56120), G548 (WAA 108809), G536 (EA 35435), G511 (EA 56511), G562 (OA 254), and G38 (EA 56038).

Figure 6. Drawings of the obverses of gems 47, 44, 45, 40, 41, and 42 (3rd c. CE). London, BM G120 (EA 56120), G548 (WAA 108809), G536 (EA 35435), G511 (EA 56511), G562 (OA 254), and G38 (EA 56038).

Reproduced courtesy of the Trustees of the British Museum.

Figure 7. Illustrations of (a) Seth fighting Aepep, on a papyrus, from the Book of the Dead of Lady Cheritwebeshet (21st Dynasty: ca.1069-945), Cairo, Egyptian Museum); (b) Seth fighting a serpent, on the obverse of a black limestone gem (University College London); (c) Anubis embalming, on a papyrus, PDM xii: 135ff. (2nd-3rd c. CE, London-Leiden. Author’s line drawings after: (a) Gahlin, 2001, p. 59; (b) Petrie, 1914, pl. XXI.135g; (c) Betz, 1992, p. 171.

Figure 7. Illustrations of (a) Seth fighting Aepep, on a papyrus, from the Book of the Dead of Lady Cheritwebeshet (21st Dynasty: ca.1069-945), Cairo, Egyptian Museum); (b) Seth fighting a serpent, on the obverse of a black limestone gem (University College London); (c) Anubis embalming, on a papyrus, PDM xii: 135ff. (2nd-3rd c. CE, London-Leiden. Author’s line drawings after: (a) Gahlin, 2001, p. 59; (b) Petrie, 1914, pl. XXI.135g; (c) Betz, 1992, p. 171.

Figure 8. Illustrations of Anubis embalming, on the obverse of 2nd-3rd c. CE gems now in: (a) University College, London; (b-c) Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale.

Figure 8. Illustrations of Anubis embalming, on the obverse of 2nd-3rd c. CE gems now in: (a) University College, London; (b-c) Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale.

Author’s line drawings after Petrie, 1914, pl. XXI: 135e (a); Delatte, Derchain, 1964, p. 97 (b-c).

Figure 9. Illustrations of (a) a seated figure from a papyrus, PGM XII: 376ff. (2nd-3rd c. CE), and (b) the Osirian paraphernalia, the crook and flail.

Figure 9. Illustrations of (a) a seated figure from a papyrus, PGM XII: 376ff. (2nd-3rd c. CE), and (b) the Osirian paraphernalia, the crook and flail.

Author’s line drawings, (a) after Betz, 1992, 167.

Figure 10. Drawings of the obverses of gems 24, 577, 2, 344, and 406. London, BM G1 (EA 56001), G595, G208 (EA 56208), G401 (EA 56401), and G462 (EA 56462). 1st-5th c. CE.

Figure 10. Drawings of the obverses of gems 24, 577, 2, 344, and 406. London, BM G1 (EA 56001), G595, G208 (EA 56208), G401 (EA 56401), and G462 (EA 56462). 1st-5th c. CE.

Reproduced courtesy of the Trustees of the British Museum.

Figure 11. Illustration of Bes on papyri (4th-5th c. CE)—PGM VIII: 64ff. (London, BM) and PGM XXXIX: 1-21 (Oslo)—and a plaque (3rd c. BCE-1st c. CE), New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art 22.2.23.

Figure 11. Illustration of Bes on papyri (4th-5th c. CE)—PGM VIII: 64ff. (London, BM) and PGM XXXIX: 1-21 (Oslo)—and a plaque (3rd c. BCE-1st c. CE), New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art 22.2.23.

Author’s line drawings after Betz, 1992, p. 148 and 279, and Allen, 2005, p. 23.

Figure 12. Illustrations on papyri (3rd-5th c. CE): (a) Osiris on PGM LXXVIII: 1-14 (Heidelberg); (b) a scorpion on PGM CXIII: 1-4 (Amsterdam); (c) an ibis on PGM VII: 300 (London, BM), and (d) a “magical stele” design on PGM VII: 940 ff. (London, BM).

Figure 12. Illustrations on papyri (3rd-5th c. CE): (a) Osiris on PGM LXXVIII: 1-14 (Heidelberg); (b) a scorpion on PGM CXIII: 1-4 (Amsterdam); (c) an ibis on PGM VII: 300 (London, BM), and (d) a “magical stele” design on PGM VII: 940 ff. (London, BM).

Author’s line drawings after Betz, 1992, p. 299, 313, 125, and 143.

Figure 13. Drawings of the obverses of gems 288, 377, 368, 379, 380, 46, 566, 274, and 133. London, BM G454 (EA 56454), G1986, 5-1, 28, G333 (EA 56333), G496 (EA 56496), G294 (EA 56294), G1986, 5-1, 97, G91 (EA 56091), G33, (EA 56033), and G139 (EA 56139). 3rd c. CE except 1st c. CE (f).

Figure 13. Drawings of the obverses of gems 288, 377, 368, 379, 380, 46, 566, 274, and 133. London, BM G454 (EA 56454), G1986, 5-1, 28, G333 (EA 56333), G496 (EA 56496), G294 (EA 56294), G1986, 5-1, 97, G91 (EA 56091), G33, (EA 56033), and G139 (EA 56139). 3rd c. CE except 1st c. CE (f).

Reproduced courtesy of the Trustees of the British Museum.

Figure 14. Two hieroglyphs showing jackal-headed sled hieroglyphs.

Figure 14. Two hieroglyphs showing jackal-headed sled hieroglyphs.

Author’s line drawings after Kurth, 2008, I, p. 406.

Figure 15. Depiction of Sobek on a wall at Kom Ombo, 332 BCE-CE 395.

Figure 15. Depiction of Sobek on a wall at Kom Ombo, 332 BCE-CE 395.

Author’s line drawing after Gahlin, 2001, p. 45.

Figure 16. Horus and Seth, Sema Tawy. Relief in the Cairo Museum.

Figure 16. Horus and Seth, Sema Tawy. Relief in the Cairo Museum.

© Brown Reference Group Ltd.

Figure 17. Funerary Stele of Serep, ca. 757-656. Ure Museum (Reading) E.23.2.

Figure 17. Funerary Stele of Serep, ca. 757-656. Ure Museum (Reading) E.23.2.

Photo © University of Reading.

Figure 18. Drawings of the obverses of gems 144, 158, and 345. London, BM G538 (EA 35438), G290 (EA 56290), and G396 (EA 56396). 1st-4th c. CE.

Figure 18. Drawings of the obverses of gems 144, 158, and 345. London, BM G538 (EA 35438), G290 (EA 56290), and G396 (EA 56396). 1st-4th c. CE.

Reproduced courtesy of the Trustees of the British Museum.

Figure 19. (a) Frontal view of a Bes amulet, 664-332 (London, BM EA 11821) and (b) a magical wand, 12th dynasty (c. 1985 - c. 1795) (London, BM EA 18175).

Figure 19. (a) Frontal view of a Bes amulet, 664-332 (London, BM EA 11821) and (b) a magical wand, 12th dynasty (c. 1985 - c. 1795) (London, BM EA 18175).

Author’s line drawings after Andrews, 1994, 38 and Gahlin, 2001, 203.

Figure 20. (a) Scorpion amulet in Khartoum, Archaeological Museum, and (b) figure of Isis/Selket in Paris, Louvre Museum.

Figure 20. (a) Scorpion amulet in Khartoum, Archaeological Museum, and (b) figure of Isis/Selket in Paris, Louvre Museum.

Author’s line drawings after Gahlin, 2001, p. 75 and 62.

Figure 21. Harvesting scene. Wall Painting from the tomb of Sennedjem, Deir el-Medina. 19th Dynasty (ca.1295-1186).

Figure 21. Harvesting scene. Wall Painting from the tomb of Sennedjem, Deir el-Medina. 19th Dynasty (ca.1295-1186).

© Ancient Art and Architecture Collection.

Figure 22. Drawings of the obverses of gems 425, 9, and 10. London, BM G46 (EA 56046), G412 (EA 56412), and G1986, 5-1, 128. 2nd-4th c. CE.

Figure 22. Drawings of the obverses of gems 425, 9, and 10. London, BM G46 (EA 56046), G412 (EA 56412), and G1986, 5-1, 128. 2nd-4th c. CE.

Reproduced courtesy of the Trustees of the British Museum.

Figure 23. Drawings of the obverses of gems 159, 167, and 168. London, BM G12 (EA 56012), G542 (EA 43117), and G521 (EA 56521). 2nd-4th c. CE.

Figure 23. Drawings of the obverses of gems 159, 167, and 168. London, BM G12 (EA 56012), G542 (EA 43117), and G521 (EA 56521). 2nd-4th c. CE.

Reproduced courtesy of the Trustees of the British Museum.

Figure 24. Illustration from the Book of Amduat, showing a section from the sixth hour.

Figure 24. Illustration from the Book of Amduat, showing a section from the sixth hour.

Author’s line drawing after Hornung, 1999, p. 47.

Figure 25. Illustration of a multi-headed Bes on a papyrus, 4th-3rd c. CE. London, BM 10296.

Figure 25. Illustration of a multi-headed Bes on a papyrus, 4th-3rd c. CE. London, BM 10296.

© Trustees of the British Museum.

Figure 26. Drawings of the obverses of gems 20, 21, 14, and 406. London, BM G195 (EA 56195), G326 (EA 56326), G384 (EA 56384), G462 (EA 56462). 1st-5th c. CE.

Figure 26. Drawings of the obverses of gems 20, 21, 14, and 406. London, BM G195 (EA 56195), G326 (EA 56326), G384 (EA 56384), G462 (EA 56462). 1st-5th c. CE.

Reproduced courtesy of the Trustees of the British Museum.

Figure 27. Hieroglyphics depicting (a) Horus, (b) a man offering to Horus, (c) Shentait, and (d) ibises.

Figure 27. Hieroglyphics depicting (a) Horus, (b) a man offering to Horus, (c) Shentait, and (d) ibises.

Author’s line drawings after Kurth 2008, I. p. 248, 143-144 and 251-252.

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Notes

1 For a general overview of the magical papyri see further the introductions in Betz, 1992, p. xli-liii and p. lv-lviii for the Greek and Demotic papyri respectively. We should not necessarily equate Greek texts with products of Greek individuals; Egyptian priests were capable of writing in both scripts. Papyri solely or mostly written in Greek are cited as PGM; likewise documents written solely or mostly in Demotic Egyptian are cited as PDM; see Dieleman, 2005, p. 47-144.

2 For an introduction to the late antique magical gems see Zazoff, 1983, p. 349-62. For the contemporary nature of both the gems and the papyri see Smith, 1979, p. 132.

3 All dates hereafter are BCE, unless otherwise noted.

4 Janowitz, 2001, p. 44-45. For previous discussions pertaining to the relationship between the gems and the papyri see: Bonner, 1946, p. 48-50; Smith, 1979, passim; Schwartz, 1981, passim.

5 I accept Michel’s dates for the gems for the purposes of this study since I concentrate on the gem’s iconographic content.

6 For an overview of gems throughout antiquity see Zazoff, 1983, passim and, for a standard collection of Egyptian amulets, see Petrie, 1914, passim.

7 Petrie, 1914, p. 30-32, includes what most scholars call ‘gems’ in his book entitled ‘Amulets’; see plate xxi. Presumably he did not recognise a formal distinction between these artefacts.

8 Smith, 1979, p. 129-36.

9 Smith, 1979, p. 133.

10 See further Michel, 2001, p. 65-68, gems 99-103 and Michel, 2001, p. 327-32, gems 563-74.

11 For motifs absent from the gems compare the Eye of Horus (wedjat) found in several renditions on the magical papyri: see PGM V, 70-95 and PDM: lxi, 79-94. It is also attested in the Ptolemaic period as a design produced in the round like its Pharaonic predecessors: see Petrie 1914, number 138af. Other common Pharaonic symbols absent from the gems are the ‘djed’ pillar and the ‘tit’ or ‘buckle of Isis’, although Ptolemaic and Roman specimens are found as amulets; see Petrie, 1914, p. 15 and 23 respectively. Few specimens of the ‘ankh’ occur in Michel’s edition as independent forms, but are held by deities, a motif from monumental iconography; see gem 461 and also the symbol held by deities in gems 24 and 566. One final observation is that Pharaonic amulets mostly depict one deity while the gems commonly render an assembly. For Pharaonic amulets see Andrews, 1994, p. 14-35; Cf. gems 6, 12-17 in Michel, 2001, p. 4, 8-12.

12 Dieleman, 2005, p. 132-33 and 170-82; Dieleman, Moyer, 2003, p. 47-72; Smith, 2001, p. 13-27.

13 The cippus in figure 1 measures 20.3 x 13.4 x 5.0 cm while the amulet in figure 2 measures 3.8 x 2.3 x 1.5 cm; see Allen, 2005, p. 63-64.

14 Petrie, 1914, numbers 144a-f.

15 See Petrie, 1914, p. 23.

16 P. Berlin 29009: fragment a, x+9; translated by Quack in Szpakowska, 2006, p. 180.

17 Quack in Szpakowska, 2006, p. 180.

18 Andrews, 1994, p. 7; see also the MacGregor Papyrus in Capart, 1908.

19 Andrews, 1994, p. 106. Bonner, 1946, p. 53-54, also believes that the same types of amulet were used by the living and the deceased.

20 Bonner, 1946, p. 36.

21 See further Wilkinson, 2003, p. 197-99.

22 For Seth in the magical papyri see further Dieleman, 2005, p. 130-38.

23 While only this image clearly corresponds with Seth’s traditional iconography, there are several other images that are labelled as Seth, either directly or with known Sethian voces magicae; see further PGM XXXVI: 1-34 and 69-101. Other images derived from Seth’s traditional iconography are found in Coptic magical papyri; for a full discussion of this tradition see Grumach, 1970, p. 169-81.

The papyri contain many images and figures in addition to Seth. A comprehensive list of these images is: PGM II: 64-183; PGM III: 1-164, 187-262, 410-23; PGM V: 70-95, 304-69; PGM VII: 215-18, 300, 579-90, 925-39, 940-68; PGM VIII: 64-110; PGM IX: 1-14; PGM X: 24-35, 36-50; PGM XII: 376-96; PDM xii: 62-75, 135-46; PGM XXXV: 1-42; PGM XXXVI: 1-34, 35-68, 69-101, 102-33, 178-87, 231-55; PGM XXXIX: 1-21; PGM LVIII: 15-34; PDM lxi: 63-78, 79-94; PGM LXII: 76-106; PGM LXIV: 1-12; PGM LXVI: 1-11; PGM LXXVIII: 1-14; PGM CVI: 1-10; PGM CXIII: 1-4; PGM CXXIII: a-f; PGM CXXIV: 1-43. It is clear that images were an important aspect of the papyri and many other spells without illustrations in extant manuscripts prescribe images now lost. An interesting case is PGM II, which has three spells instructing the practitioner to draw the same image of the ‘Headless One’ a single copy of which was appended to the end of the spell collection. For spells that prescribe images missing from extant textual witnesses, see: PGM IV: 2006-125, 3255-74; PGM VII: 467-77; PGM XII: 96-106, 121-43, 144-52; PGM XIII: 343-646; PDM xiv: 395-427; PGM XXXVI: 264-74; PDM Supp: 101-16, 138-49, 162-68. Currently no detailed survey has been undertaken although Richard Gordon (personal communication) is working on such a project first mentioned in Gager, 1992, p. 35, endnote 58.

24 Michel, 2001, p. 31.

25 See further Barb and Griffith, 1960, p. 367-71. Barb suggests it is Anubis while Griffith advocates it is Seth.

26 See Michel, 2001, p. 29.

27 See for the CT spell Faulkner, 1972, p. 138; for the BD spells Faulkner, 1985, p. 60-61 and p. 101-102 respectively; for the Contendings see Lichtheim, 1976, p. 216; for Papyrus Bremner-Rhind see Faulkner, 1937, p. 168-69; for the Demotic Drama of Horus and Seth see further Gaudard, 2005, p. 487.

28 See gems 24, 566-67, 568-70 and 577 in Michel, 2001, p. 15, 329, 320 and 333 respectively.

29 Michel, 2001, p. 26; see PDM Supp. 101-30 for spells that portray Anubis as a warden of souls or spirits.

30 See further Zazoff, 1983, Table 112, nos. 4.54 and 5.54

31 I employ the translation by Faulkner, 1969, p. 113-14.

32 Translated by Faulkner, 1972, p. 69-72.

33 Quoted by Gaudard, 2005, p. 225-26, taken from Faulkner, 1969, p. 200.

34 Michel, 2001, p. 26.

35 Translated in Betz, 1992, p. 221.

36 For Sethian epithets see Dieleman, 2005, p. 136-38.

37 P. Berlin 8278c. 1. x+9; translated in Gaudard, 2005, p. 81.

38 PGM XII/PDM xii and PGM XIV/PDM xiv; see Dieleman, 2005, p. 285-94.

39 For an overview of Bes’ popularity see Wilkinson, 2003, p. 103.

40 For the text see Betz, 1992, p. 299.

41 For the text see Betz, 1992, p. 313 and for the function of the spell see Sijpesteijn, 1976, p. 108 (Table IIIb).

42 See Gems 342 and 343 and PDM xiv: 594-620; PGM XXVIII, a-c; and PGM CXII.

43 For these epithets see Dieleman, 2005, p. 135-38.

44 For a discussion of the attributes and invocations of Seth in the papyri see Dieleman, 2005, p. 130-38.

45 Grumach, 1970, p. 170-71.

46 For an overview of the uterus motif see further Michel, 2001, p. 220.

47 Gardiner, 1927, p. 517 sign U16; it is used as a determinative in the words ‘sledge’, ‘copper’ and ‘wonder’.

48 Cf gems: 353-55, 358-78 in Michel, 2001, p. 223-38.

49 Michel, 2001, p. 240.

50 See Smith, 1979, passim.

51 See below the case of the Nine-headed Bes iconography, instructions for which can be found in the Brooklyn Illustrated Magical Papyrus, published by Sauneron, 1970, and a papyrus found among texts from the Tebtunis temple library, published by Quack in Ryholt, 2006, p. 53-64. There is also another image preserved in the Tebtunis collection soon to be published (Kim Ryholt: personal communication).

52 Allen, 2005, p. 64.

53 See further Jane Draycott’s discussion of these cippi in the previous chapter of this volume.

54 See Gahlin, 2001, p. 203.

55 Gahlin, 2001, p. 75. See the discussion below for the scorpion image in the papyri.

56 Michel, 2001, p. 218. For the hieroglyph see Kurth, 2008, p. 134.

57 See Hornung, 1999, fig. 34. Hornung's work only contains images of the New Kingdom books for the afterlife. One may now combine these images (for most of these sources) with the text in Carrier, 2009.

58 Hornung, 1999, p. 30.

59 See further Herbin, 2008, plates 42-43 (P. BM EA 10283); 44-45 (P. BM EA 10303); 74-75 (P. BM EA 10282) and 143-44 (P. BM EA 10114).

60 See Meeks, 2006, p. 173-75.

61 Quack in Szpakowska, 2006, p. 180.

62 Darnell, 2004, p. 387-90 and pl. 29; for the Abrasax gems see further Michel, 2001, p. 115-48, gems 181-242.

63 Taylor in Johnston, 2004, p. 474.

64 Taylor in Johnston, 2004, p. 474.

65 Taylor in Johnston, 2004, p. 474.

66 Taylor in Johnston, 2004, p. 474.

67 Dieleman, 2005, p. 82.

68 Dieleman, 2005, p. 84-85.

69 Quack in Ryholt, 2006, p. 60 notes the similarity between these images and the gems in Michel’s edition. I would like to express my gratitude to Kim Ryholt for informing me of the affinities between these ‘Pantheistic’ gems and the Brooklyn and Copenhagen papyri.

70 For an earlier image of the papyrus see Pinch, 1994, p. 37. Quack in Ryholt, 2006, p. 60 provides details of publications in which our papyrus appears.

71 For the Brooklyn papyrus, see Sauneron, 1970; for the British Museum example, see Pinch, 1994, p. 37. For the text recently published among other papyri from Tebtunis see Quack in Ryholt, 2006, p. 53-64. Quack questions the provenance of this text and so we remain uncertain as to whether or not the papyrus definitely came from the temple library at Tebtunis: see Quack in Ryholt, 2006, p. 53. For PGM XII: 121-43, see Betz, 1992, p. 157-58. I thank Kim Ryholt (personnal communication) for alterning me to the image on the papyrus from Tebtunis that is soon to be published.

72 Sauneron, 1970, p. 5. For a palaeographical and linguistic investigation of the papyrus see p. 3-5.

73 Quack in Ryholt, 2006, p. 54.

74 Michel, 2001, p. 101 and p. 107.

75 Gems 160-69; see Michel, 2001, p. 101-107.

76 Kotansky in Betz, 1992, p. 158, footnote 38.

77 Dieleman, 2005, passim.

78 Dieleman, 2005, p. 48 n. 3.

79 In addition to those cited in this footnote below, Michel notes the possible presence of hieroglyphs on gems: 8, 9, 13, 15, 20, 38, 51, 102, 104, 135, 143, 159, 169-70, 172, 274, 345, 360, 366, 375-76, 405, 407, 523, 564, 604-608. During the course of researching this paper, I have observed further cases, some obvious and others less definite. I present these below in a format whereby ‘G1 = K200, 45’ means: ‘Michel, 2001, Gem 1 resembles Kurth, 2008, p. 200, sign number 45’. The ‘=’ sign indicates a match between a gem image and the hieroglyphic sign while the ‘≈’ indicates reasonable similarity between a gem image and a hieroglyph. Some gem images may have one element that matches with known hieroglyphics while others have multiple correspondences indicated by multiple entries for a single gem. My list is as follows: G3 ≈ K142, 80f; G6 ≈ K145, 92-93; G7 ≈ K248, 27; G9 ≈ K285, 39, = K283, 21, = K298, 1, ≈ K247, 20-21; G10 = K283, 21; G13 ≈ K145, 92-93, = K298, 6; G14 ≈ K144, 89e, ≈ K143, 86; G16 = K129, 9aa, ≈ K145, 92-93; G17 ≈ K136, 46, = K246, 11; G19 = K247, 17; G20 = K247, 12, ≈ K248, 30; G21 ≈ K248, 25; G40 ≈ K140, 71d; G44 = K140, 72-72a, ≈ K282, 3; G51 = K344, 77 or 87, = K204, 95; G99 = K299, note 22; G102 = K344, 77, ≈ K252, 71 or K253, 76, ≈ K286, 54-55, = K202, 78-79, = K298, 1; G105 = K129, 9aa; G116 ≈ K140, 71a; G123 ≈ K356, 7 or 9; ≈ K285, 39, = K205, 114; G143 ≈ K205, 11-12a; G144 ≈ K142, 80e; G145 = K356, 7; G146 = K205, 114; G149-55 ≈ K204, 98a; G273 ≈ K140, 71b; G345 ≈ K284, 29 or ≈ K135, 33 or maybe ≈ K298, 14; G358 ≈ K285, 37a; G377 = K406, 16; G424 = K276, 5; G564 = K198, 14.

80 See the description of this group in Michel, 2001, p. 255.

81 See Gardiner, 1927, p. 470.

82 See for both forms Kurth, 2008, I, p. 251 number 64 and p. 252 number 67a.

83 See Kurth, 2008, I, p. 251 for all the meanings of the symbol.

84 Darnell, 2004, p. 2.

85 Van der Horst, 1987, p. 73. For Horapollo see Sbordone, 1946, p. 81-82 and for Egyptian writing in Greek and Latin literature see Marestaing, 1913, passim.

86 Dieleman, 2005, p. 285-94.

87 See the conclusions drawn by Dieleman on the period of transmission of Egyptian ritual practices in the magical papyri; Dieleman, 2005, p. 293-94.

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Table des illustrations

Titre Figure 1. Drawings of (a) a cippus of Horus (ca. 300-30) and (b) a cippus amulet (ca. 500-200). New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art 20.2.23 and 57.143.
Crédits Author’s line drawings after Allen 2005, p. 63-64.
URL http://pallas.revues.org/docannexe/image/2130/img-1.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 268k
Titre Figure 2. Anubis embalming from the tomb of Sennedjem. Tomb Wall Painting from Deir el-Medina, 19th Dynasty (ca.1295-1186).
Crédits © Ancient Art and Architecture Collection.
URL http://pallas.revues.org/docannexe/image/2130/img-2.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 920k
Titre Figure 3. Illustrations of mummified figures on a bier, on Ptolemaic amulets in London, Petrie Museum.
Crédits Author’s line drawing after Petrie, 1914, pl. VII, 87a and c.
URL http://pallas.revues.org/docannexe/image/2130/img-3.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 128k
Titre Figure 4. Illustrations of amulets on a papyrus, ca. 330-30. London, BM 10098, sheet 12.
Crédits © Trustees of the British Museum.
URL http://pallas.revues.org/docannexe/image/2130/img-4.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 884k
Titre Figure 5. Illustrations on papyri: (a) a scarab on PGM II, 64ff. (Berlin, inv. 5026, 4th c. CE); and (b) Seth on PDM xii, 62 ff. (London-Leiden, 2nd-3rd c. CE).
Crédits Author’s line drawings after Betz, 1992, p. 102, 289, 17, and 169.
URL http://pallas.revues.org/docannexe/image/2130/img-5.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 116k
Titre Figure 6. Drawings of the obverses of gems 47, 44, 45, 40, 41, and 42 (3rd c. CE). London, BM G120 (EA 56120), G548 (WAA 108809), G536 (EA 35435), G511 (EA 56511), G562 (OA 254), and G38 (EA 56038).
Crédits Reproduced courtesy of the Trustees of the British Museum.
URL http://pallas.revues.org/docannexe/image/2130/img-6.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 296k
Titre Figure 7. Illustrations of (a) Seth fighting Aepep, on a papyrus, from the Book of the Dead of Lady Cheritwebeshet (21st Dynasty: ca.1069-945), Cairo, Egyptian Museum); (b) Seth fighting a serpent, on the obverse of a black limestone gem (University College London); (c) Anubis embalming, on a papyrus, PDM xii: 135ff. (2nd-3rd c. CE, London-Leiden. Author’s line drawings after: (a) Gahlin, 2001, p. 59; (b) Petrie, 1914, pl. XXI.135g; (c) Betz, 1992, p. 171.
URL http://pallas.revues.org/docannexe/image/2130/img-7.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 120k
Titre Figure 8. Illustrations of Anubis embalming, on the obverse of 2nd-3rd c. CE gems now in: (a) University College, London; (b-c) Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale.
Crédits Author’s line drawings after Petrie, 1914, pl. XXI: 135e (a); Delatte, Derchain, 1964, p. 97 (b-c).
URL http://pallas.revues.org/docannexe/image/2130/img-8.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 168k
Titre Figure 9. Illustrations of (a) a seated figure from a papyrus, PGM XII: 376ff. (2nd-3rd c. CE), and (b) the Osirian paraphernalia, the crook and flail.
Crédits Author’s line drawings, (a) after Betz, 1992, 167.
URL http://pallas.revues.org/docannexe/image/2130/img-9.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 160k
Titre Figure 10. Drawings of the obverses of gems 24, 577, 2, 344, and 406. London, BM G1 (EA 56001), G595, G208 (EA 56208), G401 (EA 56401), and G462 (EA 56462). 1st-5th c. CE.
Crédits Reproduced courtesy of the Trustees of the British Museum.
URL http://pallas.revues.org/docannexe/image/2130/img-10.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 304k
Titre Figure 11. Illustration of Bes on papyri (4th-5th c. CE)—PGM VIII: 64ff. (London, BM) and PGM XXXIX: 1-21 (Oslo)—and a plaque (3rd c. BCE-1st c. CE), New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art 22.2.23.
Crédits Author’s line drawings after Betz, 1992, p. 148 and 279, and Allen, 2005, p. 23.
URL http://pallas.revues.org/docannexe/image/2130/img-11.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 144k
Titre Figure 12. Illustrations on papyri (3rd-5th c. CE): (a) Osiris on PGM LXXVIII: 1-14 (Heidelberg); (b) a scorpion on PGM CXIII: 1-4 (Amsterdam); (c) an ibis on PGM VII: 300 (London, BM), and (d) a “magical stele” design on PGM VII: 940 ff. (London, BM).
Crédits Author’s line drawings after Betz, 1992, p. 299, 313, 125, and 143.
URL http://pallas.revues.org/docannexe/image/2130/img-12.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 112k
Titre Figure 13. Drawings of the obverses of gems 288, 377, 368, 379, 380, 46, 566, 274, and 133. London, BM G454 (EA 56454), G1986, 5-1, 28, G333 (EA 56333), G496 (EA 56496), G294 (EA 56294), G1986, 5-1, 97, G91 (EA 56091), G33, (EA 56033), and G139 (EA 56139). 3rd c. CE except 1st c. CE (f).
Crédits Reproduced courtesy of the Trustees of the British Museum.
URL http://pallas.revues.org/docannexe/image/2130/img-13.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 488k
Titre Figure 14. Two hieroglyphs showing jackal-headed sled hieroglyphs.
Crédits Author’s line drawings after Kurth, 2008, I, p. 406.
URL http://pallas.revues.org/docannexe/image/2130/img-14.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 28k
Titre Figure 15. Depiction of Sobek on a wall at Kom Ombo, 332 BCE-CE 395.
Crédits Author’s line drawing after Gahlin, 2001, p. 45.
URL http://pallas.revues.org/docannexe/image/2130/img-15.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 200k
Titre Figure 16. Horus and Seth, Sema Tawy. Relief in the Cairo Museum.
Crédits © Brown Reference Group Ltd.
URL http://pallas.revues.org/docannexe/image/2130/img-16.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 204k
Titre Figure 17. Funerary Stele of Serep, ca. 757-656. Ure Museum (Reading) E.23.2.
Crédits Photo © University of Reading.
URL http://pallas.revues.org/docannexe/image/2130/img-17.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 100k
Titre Figure 18. Drawings of the obverses of gems 144, 158, and 345. London, BM G538 (EA 35438), G290 (EA 56290), and G396 (EA 56396). 1st-4th c. CE.
Crédits Reproduced courtesy of the Trustees of the British Museum.
URL http://pallas.revues.org/docannexe/image/2130/img-18.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 156k
Titre Figure 19. (a) Frontal view of a Bes amulet, 664-332 (London, BM EA 11821) and (b) a magical wand, 12th dynasty (c. 1985 - c. 1795) (London, BM EA 18175).
Crédits Author’s line drawings after Andrews, 1994, 38 and Gahlin, 2001, 203.
URL http://pallas.revues.org/docannexe/image/2130/img-19.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 220k
Titre Figure 20. (a) Scorpion amulet in Khartoum, Archaeological Museum, and (b) figure of Isis/Selket in Paris, Louvre Museum.
Crédits Author’s line drawings after Gahlin, 2001, p. 75 and 62.
URL http://pallas.revues.org/docannexe/image/2130/img-20.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 128k
Titre Figure 21. Harvesting scene. Wall Painting from the tomb of Sennedjem, Deir el-Medina. 19th Dynasty (ca.1295-1186).
Crédits © Ancient Art and Architecture Collection.
URL http://pallas.revues.org/docannexe/image/2130/img-21.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 608k
Titre Figure 22. Drawings of the obverses of gems 425, 9, and 10. London, BM G46 (EA 56046), G412 (EA 56412), and G1986, 5-1, 128. 2nd-4th c. CE.
Crédits Reproduced courtesy of the Trustees of the British Museum.
URL http://pallas.revues.org/docannexe/image/2130/img-22.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 156k
Titre Figure 23. Drawings of the obverses of gems 159, 167, and 168. London, BM G12 (EA 56012), G542 (EA 43117), and G521 (EA 56521). 2nd-4th c. CE.
Crédits Reproduced courtesy of the Trustees of the British Museum.
URL http://pallas.revues.org/docannexe/image/2130/img-23.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 256k
Titre Figure 24. Illustration from the Book of Amduat, showing a section from the sixth hour.
Crédits Author’s line drawing after Hornung, 1999, p. 47.
URL http://pallas.revues.org/docannexe/image/2130/img-24.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 116k
Titre Figure 25. Illustration of a multi-headed Bes on a papyrus, 4th-3rd c. CE. London, BM 10296.
Crédits © Trustees of the British Museum.
URL http://pallas.revues.org/docannexe/image/2130/img-25.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 312k
Titre Figure 26. Drawings of the obverses of gems 20, 21, 14, and 406. London, BM G195 (EA 56195), G326 (EA 56326), G384 (EA 56384), G462 (EA 56462). 1st-5th c. CE.
Crédits Reproduced courtesy of the Trustees of the British Museum.
URL http://pallas.revues.org/docannexe/image/2130/img-26.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 168k
Titre Figure 27. Hieroglyphics depicting (a) Horus, (b) a man offering to Horus, (c) Shentait, and (d) ibises.
Crédits Author’s line drawings after Kurth 2008, I. p. 248, 143-144 and 251-252.
URL http://pallas.revues.org/docannexe/image/2130/img-27.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 108k
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Pour citer cet article

Référence papier

Nick West, « Gods on small things: Egyptian monumental iconography on late antique magical gems and the Greek and Demotic magical papyri », Pallas, 86 | 2011, 135-166.

Référence électronique

Nick West, « Gods on small things: Egyptian monumental iconography on late antique magical gems and the Greek and Demotic magical papyri », Pallas [En ligne], 86 | 2011, mis en ligne le 30 octobre 2011, consulté le 16 novembre 2017. URL : http://pallas.revues.org/2130 ; DOI : 10.4000/pallas.2130

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Auteur

Nick West

PhD candidate
Department of Classics
University of Reading
n.j.west@reading.ac.uk

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Droits d’auteur

Licence Creative Commons
Pallas – Revue d'études antiques est mis à disposition selon les termes de la licence Creative Commons Attribution - Pas d'Utilisation Commerciale - Pas de Modification 4.0 International.

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