The CBd
Bonner, SMA, 71.

inscriptions to be cut on the stones, πειρα on the obverse, χουθεσουλε on the reverse. Allowing for errors in orthography, it is evident that the text is describing just such stones as those listed above. The word πειρα, to be read πηρά, refers to the blindness of the animal; possibly the “two globes” on the Paris specimen represent its destroyed eyes. κανθεσουλε has not been interpreted. κανθός means the corner of the eye, but in the absence of any explanation of σουλε that gives us no trustworthy basis for an explanation.
The interpretation of these stones that has just been repeated may be supplemented, I think, in one particular. Neither Panofka nor Drexler has anything to offer about the moon which is usually to be seen over the lizard's head; yet an explanation is suggested by a text which Drexler cites, namely, Marcellus De medicamentis 8, 49. After describing the procedure that we already know from Pliny and Aelian, Marcellus adds: “Observandum etiam ut luna vetere, id est a luna nona decima in vicesimam quintam, die Iovis Septembri mense capiatur lacerta atque ita remedium fiat, sed ab homine maxime puro atque casto.” “Note that the lizard must be caught and the remedy thus prepared in the old moon, that is, from the nineteenth to the twenty-fifth, on a Thursday in the month of September; and that he who catches it must be entirely pure and chaste.” Precise instructions about the time when and by whom any material must be obtained in order to exert its power are well known in all magical prescriptions, and none is more common than the direction to act in a certain period of the moon's cycle. The moon on the gems may be a reminder that the lizard was taken at the proper time. The fact that the points of the moon are turned downward may confirm this suggestion, marking it as a waning moon, not an increasing one. The horns of the crescent moon, when it is represented on gems, are usually pointed to the left (as it is shown on our almanacs and calendars), or upward.10 The position of the moon on these lizard stones has no parallel, so far as I know, on other types, and it may have been so placed for the reason that I have mentioned.
This explanation receives some support from Horapollo's statement (I, 4) that in the first fifteen days of the month the crescent is shown with the points upward, while in the latter half they are turned downward. This seems to be a Greek rather than an Egyptian notion, for in Egyptian use the downward-pointing crescent usually represented the moon without reference to its phase; see Sbordone's note on the passage.


On each of a series comprising sixteen stones, which are scattered among nine different collections, there is engraved a little scene that seems to be as far removed from magic as possible.11 It is only the presence of an inscription on the reverse of these stones that caused them to be classed as amulets,

10 But there are exceptions, as D. 203, 210.
11 De Ridder 3488–3489, Pl. 30; Petrie, Objects of Daily Use, pp. 14–15, Pl. II, 8 A; see also our illustrations, D. 115–127.

Last modified: 2012-11-05 10:49:34

Related objects: 13 item(s)