Amulet Carved in Intaglio (Incised)

Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY

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From the Coptic Christian community in Egypt, this amulet dates to the 6th-7th centuries. It is made of striated hematite, and carved with scenes and inscriptions illustrating the biblical story of the Woman with the Issue of Blood (Mark 5:25–34). In the passage, a woman with a severe hemorrhage touched Christ’s garments, which miraculously stopped the bleeding. Hematite is a bloodstone that stalls blood flow and was utilized by Byzantines to prevent miscarriages or aid in a healthy birth. Many Byzantines sought spiritual protection for medical ailments. Remedies were rendered in the form of protective amulets adorned with Christian icons and verses. This amulet is likely one of many to regulate female reproductive health and menstruation. The scripture and resulting image are modernized here. The imagery includes a local figure receiving the blessings or cure. This much-utilized practice connects communities with religion.Tuerk-Stonberg, Jacquelyn. “Magical Amulets, Magical Thinking, and Semiotics in Early Byzantium.” Old World: Journal of Ancient Africa and Eurasia, vol. 1, no. 1, 2021, pp. 1–23,

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