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MAGIC IN LATE ANTIQUITY: THE EVIDENCE OF MAGICAL GEMS

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This article examines the main problems related to the so-called magical gems (semiprecious stones engraved with images of various deities or demons and characterised by the presence of symbols and inscriptions) in order to illustrate the contribution that this kind of archaeological material can make to our knowledge of magic and popular beliefs in Late Antiquity. Magical gems reflect a complex ideology, closely linked to ritual activities performed in order to achieve a number of different purposes (divination, protection against dangers, health, love, success and wealth). These aims were sought by invoking superhuman power by means of the images represented and of the formulas inscribed on the gems. Due to the complex problems raised by this kind of archaeological material, it will be necessary to limit the discussion to the analysis of some relevant examples from the available evidence.

10.1163/22134522-90000141
/content/journals/10.1163/22134522-90000141
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/content/journals/10.1163/22134522-90000141
2010-01-01
2016-12-08

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