The CBd
Bonner, SMA, 69.


The skill and truth to life of the ancient glyptic art is nowhere shown more strikingly than in its representation of animals. Even after its treatment of the human form had somewhat declined from its earlier vigor, carvings of lions, goats, birds, and reptiles often retained a pleasing directness and vivacity. The gem type to be examined next might pass for a late genre design but for some peculiarities which, along with magical words on the reverse, mark it as an amulet. Several good specimens agree so closely in detail that a description of one would serve for all, except that the materials chosen for the design, though similar, are not the same. A good example in the possession of Mr. Seyrig is an oval of mottled green jasper or bloodstone with several reddish-brown spots and one whitish. On this is carved a thick-bodied lizard, almost certainly a gecko, in the position of climbing up a wall. Above is a crescent with the points turned downward, so that the head of the gecko is within the curve. In the field are the letters πηρα, π and η over the left and right forepaws, ρ and α under the left and right hind feet. On the reverse κανθεσουλε.

The other gems that present the same design and the same inscription are as follows:

One formerly in private possession in Cyprus, but brought from Egypt, published by Rousopoulos, Arch. Ephem., Per. II, No. 2 (1862), p. 36, and Pl. Z, 47. The material is said (p. 40) to be a red stone, but is not definitely identified.

A green jasper in Berlin, formerly in the Stosch collection (Toelken, Class I, 151; Panofka, Abh. Berl. Akad., 1851, Taf. 3, 11). The reverse inscription is reported as κανθε ουλε, the sigma having been omitted or worn off.

A black jasper in the Museo Borgiano; the cataloguer, Zoega, does not mention the presence of the moon in the design, and since his desctiptions are very full, it was probably omitted (Museo Borgiano, p. 458, No. 33). The obverse has besides πηρα the word Iαω.

A green jasper in Athens (National Museum, Coll. Dimitriou), published by Delatte, Musée Belge, 18 (1914), 64–67.

A mottled green and yellow jasper in the Southesk collection (N 82).

To this list some items have been added very recently. Mr. Seyrig informs me that the Petrakidi collection at Larnaka in Cyprus has a green jasper with a lizard on the obverse, κανθεσουλε on the reverse; and at Antioch in private possession there is a green and red jasper with a lizard and πηρα on the obverse, θυλορυβις on the reverse. The Archaeological Museum of the University of Michigan has acquired from Syria a mottled green and yellow jasper showing a lizard with his head in the curve of a large crescent; at left and right are the words ολωρις, ὀλυωρ[.. (D. 113). The reverse is not inscribed. These words look like bad copies of θυλορβις or θυλωρβις; the former has been found on the reverse of a Michigan amulet (D. 193) which has Harpocrates as the obverse figure.

Besides these there are several that differ in having a different or an additional inscription on the reverse, or no inscription at all.

British Museum 56230, plasma. My notes, which were made before I was aware of the

Last modified: 2012-11-05 10:46:48