The CBd
Bonner, SMA, 114.



is clothed in a close-fitting tunic and kilt, which, however, are marked in a lozenge pattern by crossing lines like those that represent the bandages of the mummy. In the hanging right hand is an object resembling a small balance, though it might also, and perhaps more appropriately, be interpreted as a bridle bit;44a in the left is a tall scepter, the top indistinct. In the field at the left of the figure is an altar like that on the obverse. Both this figure and the mummy are crudely incised; the face of the mummy is like a child's drawing, or worse, since the mouth seems to be misplaced, or else there is an unexplained cutting at one side of its proper position.

Forms such as those engraved on this petalon are best known from the lead curse tablets, especially the later ones which Wünsch called Sethian. That interpretation of them was derived from his opinion that the partly equine figures which are to be seen on some of them represented Set (Seth), who was depicted in later periods of Egyptian religion with the head of an ass. But Preisendanz is probably right in rejecting the Sethian interpretation of these monsters, and calling them simply horse-headed demons;45 certainly the heads resemble those of horses, particularly in the short, pointed ears. Were such beings worshiped by the drivers in the chariot races, or at least invoked by them for magical purposes ? The part that magic played in the fanatical rivalries of these charioteers and their backers is fully displayed in the leaden curse tablets, and these horse-headed beings may have a religious as well as a magical aspect. As for the mummy, one might think of it as representing an enemy who is thus, as it were, wished to death. But in this particular instance, there being no inscription, not even a name scratched beside the mummy, such a purpose cannot be proved, though it may have been in the maker's mind. There is another point in which the mummy on the petalon differs from those shown in the curse tablets; the bandaged figures on the latter are often enwrapped by the coils of a snake, which does not appear here.46 Wünsch's discussion of these figures is somewhat vitiated by his conviction that they represent Sarapis as an Aion, which seems to me to be contradicted by the fact that on some of the curse tablets the snake is striking at the head of the man; a serpent is similarly used in the Phthonos gem in Mr. Seyrig's collection (D. 148). The action is inconsistent with the notion that the snake is a companion of the god or a symbol of him, but it is natural if the mummy represents the enemy of the amulet's owner or maker.

If we make allowance for the crude workmanship, the mummy on the Michigan petalon may be no less an object of religious reverence than the Osiris of the better gem amulets or even of the temple sculptures of dynastic times. Perhaps, however, this object can be most safely explained as a sort



44a A similar object, but more like the form of the letter pi, is held by Nemesis on the handle of a Roman lamp (Walters, Cat. of Lamps in the British Museum, 1032, fig. 206). There it can scarcely be interpreted as a balance, since there is no sign of the pans. It is true, however, that the balance, as well as the bridle, is an occasional attribute of Nemesis, as on a relief from Thasos (Roscher, III, 1, 157, fig. 6); see also PW XVI, 2, 2375.

45 Akephalos, p. 27.

46 Wünsch, Sethianische Verfluchungstafeln, Nos. 16–17, pp. 16 and 20.




Last modified: 2012-11-05 11:14:31
Link: classics.mfab.hu/talismans/pandecta/1554