Archaeologists excavating a Roman-era ruin in the ancient city of Amastris in Turkey have recently made the curious discovery of a talismanic amulet seal. The pyramid-shaped Egyptian amulet has hieroglyphic characters and ancient Egyptian symbols etched on it, which have provided an element of mystery and suspense surrounding the find.
The Egyptian amulet was found during excavations of Roman ruins in Amastris, Turkey. (AA Photo)
Ancient Roman Ruins Revealed During School Construction
Amastris is located in northern Turkey’s Amasra district in Bartin province. The site in the Kum neighborhood of Amasra was earmarked for a school building in 2014. But when construction work started there, some remains thought to be from the Roman period were discovered. Construction was halted and the site was taken under protection by the authorities, according to the Daily Sabah .
Excavations to salvage the ruins were started by the Amasra Museum Directorate under the guidance of Bartin University in 2017, leading to the discovery of some columns and other architectural remains, according to DHA English . In June 2022, excavations began again and have continued to yield abundant historical remains.
Five, 6-meter long (19.68 ft) columns placed on marble pedestals carved with eagle figures have been found on a 2-decare (2,000 sq m) plot of land. Ninety-six coins and 122 other artifacts of various sizes from the Roman period have also been unearthed.
The unique Egyptian amulet is the only example of its kind to have been uncovered within a Roman structure in Turkey. (AA Photo)
Finding of Egyptian Amulet Excites Archaeologists
Recently, however, archaeologists have made a unique find. Amongst the ruins they unearthed a talismanic amulet inscribed with various characters and figures believed to be Egyptian. “It is possible to say that this is the only example found in a Roman structure in Anatolia,” explained Dr. Fatma Bağdatlı Çam, Head of Archaeology at Bartın University, when discussing the Egyptian amulet with Hurriyet. “It was a find that excited us.”
The Egyptian amulet is in the shape of a pyramidal stamp seal 2 centimeters (0.78 inches) in height. A right hand holding a sword, two wings and various demotic Egyptian letters are inscribed on the amulet that has a square base that tapers to a pyramid shape. It is made of obsidian stone.
“We see that there is a figure depicting the god Bes, whom we know from the Egyptian religion, depicted with incised lines at the base of the work,” explained Çam in the Daily Sabah . “On the upper part of the work, we see that there are letter characters and talismanic words from the ancient Egyptian religion called demotic.”
“The letter characters on the work probably represent this meaning of protection,” continued Çam. “As a kind of talismanic object, we can define it as an object that a person wears to be protected from evil and diseases or in whatever sense he wants to be protected. We can say that it is the only example of its kind found from the Roman layer in Anatolia during excavations.”
In ancient Egypt, Bes was a god used to avert evil. The Bes amulet was a popular amulet. ( Public domain )
What Makes the Egyptian Amulet Special?
Bes was a protective deity of ancient Egypt, worshipped as the protector of households, mothers, children and childbirth. With time, the protective role of Bes became more generalized and he was deemed as a guardian of all that is good and destroyer of all evil.
According to Çam, the amulet seal is one of the most remarkable finds from the second-century Roman structure built of marble. This is because such stamp seals are more commonly associated with the Assyrian Achaemenid periods and its discovery in the Roman remains is quite unexpected. Besides, the seal bears distinctly Egyptian markings.
As of now, any explanation of how the seal found its way to the Roman-era building in Amastris can only be speculative. However, the archaeological team means to study the Egyptian amulet, its provenance, purpose and journey more closely to find a clearer answer. “We will investigate what this seal means and whether the person wearing it is a priest, a religious official, or whether someone carries it for health and safety purposes. Perhaps we will find out whether a soldier in the legion brought it here (after) his mission in the east.”
Top image: Ancient Egyptian amulet seal discovered in Turkey. Source: AA Photo
By Sahir Pandey