Egyptian-Roman amulet, 100-400
Jasper in iron setting. 1,3 x 1,0 cm
Inventory number: I1679
On this gem there is an image of a figure with an armour-clad torso, a cockerel’s head and snakes as its legs. In one hand he holds a whip and in the other a shield to symbolise power and wisdom. This strange figure can be identified with the god Abraxas, who is thought to be of Egyptian origin. In the Gnostic mystery religion, which was widespread in the Hellenist-Roman period, Abraxas was considered the supreme deity. The word Abraxas is often seen engraved on antique gems together with the figure described above. They were used as amulets to protect the wearer against sickness or other evils. The name Abraxas is moreover related to the magical word abracadabra used by conjurors today.