A Later Roman Mottled jasper "Magical" Gemstone for Alimonius Plebeius

Carved in intaglio with an abbreviated “Wing” Formation Magic Square of Greek vowels. The seven vowels represent the seven observable planets, with the name of the Hebrew deity, IAO embedded. The sequence can be read as “Hail Iao” followed by the Tetragrammation for the ineffable name of the Hebrew deity. On the reverse, the inscription names the individual intended to benefit from the incantation, imploring: “You will know Alimonius Plebius, the son of Salomone”. Some Aramaic text is an addition from the 7th - 8th Centuries, including the word for “fish”, the epithet, “like water”, and “Ta-Ha”, the twentieth chapter of the Qur’an where the existence of God is established with references to the stories of Adam and Moses. An amulet of this nature would presumably have been used for foreknowledge / memory, for general protection, for the safe ascent through the heavens in the afterlife, or for all of the above.

Height: 27.8 mm. (1 1/16 in.)

Width: 20.9 mm (0 13/16 in.)


Published: Antiquarium Ltd.; Ancient Treasures XIV. (New York, 2016) p.35

Comparandum: Michel, Simone ; Die Magischen Gemmen im Britischen Museum v.1-2 (London, 2001) pp.303-304, no.496