KHAIREDINOVA E.A. Byzantine Healing Amulets from Southwestern Crimea


Elzara A. Khairedinova

Сandidate of Sciences (History), Head of the Department of Mediaeval Archaeology,

Institute of Archaeology of Crimea of the Russian Academy of Sciences,

Prosp. Akademika V.I. Vernadskogo, 2, 295007 Simferopol, Russian Federation

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Abstract. Introduction. The article presents two unique items from the Southwestern Crimea – a bronze finger ring with an image of a lion-headed serpent Chnoubis, originating from a female burial of the first quarter of the 7 th century of the Gothic-Alanian burial ground near the village of Luchistoye, and a bronze medallion, which was found in the area of the village of Goncharnoye, with magic signs, formulas and an image of Chnoubis, which is tied to an altar, fighting a snake.

Methods. According to some similar findings from the territory of the Eastern Roman Empire, the ring and the medallion are attributed to the group of Byzantine medical amulets. The amulets of the Early Byzantine time demonstrate continuity with pre-Christian magical practices, therefore, late ancient magical gems and texts were involved to decipher the plots and inscriptions engraved on those amulets.

Analysis. The finger ring was intended to improve digestion and to treat diseases of a digestive tract. The woman who owned the item was wearing it in a chest necklace, at the level of her stomach – just as it was recommended in medical treatises to wear amulets for abdominal pain. The medallion was a complex amulet intended for women. Chnoubis in the scene of fighting the snake and the spell ÐÉÍÏ are depicted on both sides of the medallion. In one case, Chnoubis is a guardian of a stomach and a fighter against diseases of the digestive tract, whose actions are enhanced by the three times repeated spell ÐÉÍÏ, which contributes to better digestion. In the second case, Chnoubis is a defender of women’s health, and the disappearing word ÐÉÍÏ should help stop pathological uterine bleeding. The action of the amulet is enhanced by a formula against demons that cause disease, and its healing properties are confirmed by the inscription ÕÃÉÁ (health). Such an amulet should be worn suspended from the neck by a long cord, or fastened to the belt.

Results. Both items belong to the group of medical magic amulets. They were brought from the Eastern Mediterranean provinces of the Empire, where in the 6th – 7th centuries there were magic amulets similar in form and repertoire of protective means. The appearance of such items among the Gothic-Alanian population of the Southwestern Crimea is not surprising. The influence of the Byzantine civilization on all aspects of the life of the local population in the Early Middle Ages can be traced both from written sources and from numerous archaeological findings.

Key words: Byzantium, Southwestern Crimea, finger rings, amulets, Chnoubis. Citation. Khairedinova E.A. Byzantine Healing Amulets from Southwestern Crimea. Vestnik Volgogradskogo gosudarstvennogo universiteta. Seriya 4. Istoriya. Regionovedenie. Mezhdunarodnye otnosheniya [Science Journal of Volgograd State University. History. Area Studies. International Relations], 2020, vol. 25, no. 6, pp. 82-99. (in Russian). DOI:

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Byzantine Healing Amulets from Southwestern Crimea by Khairedinova E.A. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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