Apotropaia and Phylakteria

Conference Paper

Archaeological evidence: 2. On apotropaic rituals and practices in burial contexts
Thursday 2021-06-24
13:50 | 16:55
Place: Swedish Institute at Athens & Zoom

Confronting evil on the West Pontic Coast: Evidence from the Classical and Hellenistic necropoleis

Mila Chacheva, 2021-06-24

Abstract

The necropoleis are important source for the material culture and funerary rituals, but they could also provide invaluable information about different aspects of the social live of ancient societies. In this regard, they could reveal intriguing details about the meaning of some groups of artefacts, for instance personal ornaments that combine decorative with protective functions: glass eye-beads and anthropomorphic pendants; gems, scarabs and scaraboids with apotropaic depictions; and other small finds, probably functioning as amulets, made of metal, glass, and bone, or even perforated animal teeth and sea shells. What unites these artefacts is that they are discovered in graves, where they occur in various combinations, some of them recurrent.

The necropolis of Apollonia Pontica is the most extensively excavated among all West Pontic necropoleis, with more than 2500 graves, some of them subjected to anthropological analysis to determine the sex and age of the deceased. These favourable conditions provide the base for the proposed presentation, as Apollonia has yielded most numerous and most diverse materials. Combining archaeological and anthropological data traces certain patterns in Classical and Hellenistic times, and the considerably less known necropoleis of Mesambria and Odessos enrich the picture by adding personal ornaments with protective functions from the Hellenistic period and by offering new clues related to their origin and possible interpretation.

About the Author(s)

Dr., National Archaeological Institute with Museum, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences

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