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E01326: Amulets with depictions of holy riders. Probably Christian. Found at Amathous and Salamis/Constantia (Cyprus). Probably prior to the 7th c.

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posted on 2016-05-01, 00:00 authored by pnowakowski
Amulet 1: Flourentzos 2002.

A bronze amulet, designed to be hung around the neck, with a depiction of a holy rider on the obverse and the first lines of Psalm 91: + ὁ κατο|ικõν ἐν βοε|θείᾳ τοῦ ὑ|ψίστου ἐν | σκέ{ι}πῃ | τοῦ <θεοῦ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ αὐλισθήσεται>/'+ He that dwelleth in the aid of the most High under the shelter of the ', engraved on the reverse. Diameter: 0.045 m. The holy rider is shown under a star, with a spear, resembling a cross. He is killing a lying female demon, depicted next to the evil eye, surrounded by daggers. The identity of the rider is unclear, but the saints usually depicted on such amulets were: George (S00259), Sisinnios (S00608), Theodore (S00480), and Sergios (S00023). Flourentzos, however, places the object in the context of 'Solomon' pendants, mentioning the Biblical king of Israel, Solomon, and his exorcisms (see also: Michaelides 1994). Though our object shares some iconographic motifs with those charms, we doubt that the depicted rider is Solomon himself.

Found in the autumn of 1995 near an ancient road in the lower city of Amathous (southern Cyprus), in a layer of charcoal mixed with burnt soil. First published by Pavlos Flourentzos in 2002. He dated the object to the 7th c., based on the stratigraphy of the find-spot, but did not attempt to identify the rider.

The deposition of the object in soil is stratigraphically dated to the 7th c.

Amulet 2: Palma di Cesnola 1884, 151, no. 41, and plate XV, fig. 63, after page 148.

An oval amulet (jasper stone) with an unlabelled depiction, possibly of a holy rider. Diameter: 0.016 m. Designed to be set in a ring. The figure is facing left and holding a lance, with a cross at its end, high above his head. There are no demons and evil entities represented. Originally identified as a common horseman, and 'a very early work' by Alessandro Palma di Cesnola, but the presence of the cross-like lance may mean that the rider is a Christian holy figure.

The amulet was first published (without a detailed description) in 1882 by Alessandro Palma di Cesnola, together with a number of similar objects, that could not be associated with the Christian religion. All of them were found in Cyprus, near or at Salamis/Constantia, during the excavations supervised by the Palma di Cesnola brothers. For their activity, see the comments in E01322.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

George, martyr in Nicomedia or Diospolis, ob. c. 303 : S00259 Sisinnios (unspecified) : S00608 Sergios, martyr in Syria, ob. 303-311 : S00023 Theodore Tiro, martyr of Amaseia (Helenopontus, north-eastern Asia Minor), ob. 306 : S00480 Merkourios,

Image Caption 1

Amulet 1; from: Flourentzos 2002, 366.

Image Caption 2

Amulet 2: Palma di Cesnola 1884, plate XV, fig. 63, after page 148.

Type of Evidence

Inscriptions - Inscribed objects Images and objects - Rings and seals Images and objects - Other portable objects (metalwork, ivory, etc.) Literary - Magical texts and amulets


  • Greek

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Aegean islands and Cyprus Aegean islands and Cyprus

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Salamis Amathous

Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)

Salamis Salamis Σαλαμίς Salamis Salamis Farmagusta Far Κωνσταντία Konstantia Constantia Amathous Salamis Σαλαμίς Salamis Salamis Farmagusta Far Κωνσταντία Konstantia Constantia

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs


Cult activities - Use of Images

  • Private ownership of an image

Cult Activities - Miracles

Other miracles with demons and demonic creatures

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives


Cult Activities - Cult Related Objects



Edition: Amulet 1: Flourentzos, P., "A rare magic bronze pendant from Amathous", Report of the Department of Antiquities, Cyprus 2002, 365-367. Reference works: L'Année épigraphique (2002), 1495. Bulletin épigraphique (2006), 562. Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum 52, 1488. Amulet 2: Palma di Cesnola, A., Salaminia (Cyprus): the history, treasures, & antiquities of Salamis in the island of Cyprus, with an introduction by Samuel Birch (London: Whiting & Co., 1884, 2nd ed.), 151, no. 41, and plate XV, fig. 63, after page 148. Further reading: Michaelides, D., "A Solomon pendant and other amulets from Cyprus", in: Jentel, M.-O., Deschênes-Wagner, G., Bernard, B., d'Aigle Tremblay, Cl. (eds.), Tranquillitas VII. Mélanges en l'honneur de Tran tam Tinh (Québec: Université Laval, 1994), 409ff. Vikan, G., "Art, medicine and magic in early Byzantium", Dumbarton Oaks Papers 38 (1984), 65-86.

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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