suggests that it was meant to relieve a woman who suffered from the pains in the loins associated with dysmenorrhea or prolapsus.
This account of the reaper stones would suffice to explain their character as amulets. But of the type, considered apart from its magical significance, something remains to be said. First, it should be observed that the reaper cutting grain sometimes appears as a mere decorative design, with no indication of any magical purpose. There is an example of this in an amethyst in the British Museum, thought to be a work of the first century after Christ.25
The action of the reaper and his stooping posture are as on amulets, but there is no tree behind him, and he wears no cap; and as might be expected, the style of the amethyst is freer and better. An agate figured by Gorlaeus may resemble the amulets more closely, for the reaper seems to wear a cap, and a single stalk behind him may be an engraver's misunderstanding of a small shrub or tree.26
But the location of the stone is unknown, and the cuts in Gorlaeus are untrustworthy in matters of detail.
A reaper type that is obviously related to that seen on the amulets27
was used on the reverse of some Alexandrian bronze coins, all apparently of Antoninus Pius, and probably all of the fifth year of his reign (Pl. XXII, Fig. 1).28
There are several minor differences among the coins, and not all of these differences are paralleled on the amulets. On some of the coins the reaper wears a conical cap, on others he is bareheaded; some show the tree behind him, others do not. On one type a sheaf of cut grain lies on the ground before the reaper. From these coins is probably derived a reaper type found on some lead tokens from Oxyrhynchus and (perhaps) Hermopolis. There is reason to think that amulet types have not infrequently been drawn from coins, and, in fact, there seems to be at least one certain example of this, namely, a Palestinian coin (New Samaria) showing the statue of Marsyas carrying a wineskin, which, apparently arbitrarily interpreted as Aeolus with the winds in a sack, was used for a colic amulet.29
The question why the reaper should serve as a coin type does not, strictly speaking, concern this investigation, but it is not without interest. R. S. Poole, who published one of the coins of Antoninus with this reverse, thought that the reaper might be an Egyptian constellation, since some astronomical symbols are certainly found on coins.30
But there is no evidence in any ancient
25 B. M. Cat. Gems, 2166, Pl. 27 (D.114).
26 Dactyliotheca, II, 226.
27 The resemblance of the reaper amulets to the coin type seems to have been noticed for the first time by Longpérier (Bulletin de la Société des antiquaires de France, 1867, 121); but the genuineness of the white gold (electrum) coin that he cites is said to be open to suspicion (De Ridder, in his comment on No. 3488 of the De Clercq collection). It is in the Cabinet des Médailles, and its reverse, with the reaper, is shown in Imhoof-Blumer and Keller, Tier- und Pflanzenbilder, Pl. 9, 25. I do not know on what authority the last-named writers say that the reaper is also found on bronze coins of Pautalia (Thrace). So far as I have been able to learn, it is seen only on Alexandrian bronzes of Antoninus Pius.
28 B. M. Cat. Alex., 1092, Pl. 12; Dattari 2986–2989 (2987 and 2989 shown on PI. 26). J. G. Milne has published two lead tokens with tile reaper type (Catalogue of Alexandrian Coins in the Ashmolean Museum, 5349 b, Pl. 6; 5403 b, Pl. 7). See also Dattari 6491, 6546, Pl. 37.
29 See the discussion of this type above, pp. 64–66.
30 R. S. Poole in B. M. Cat. Alex., pp. lvii—lviii.