Magic, mimesis, and the Annunciation to Mary : six early Byzantine cameos and the Late Antique tradition of medical amulets
Lee, Ashley A.
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It has been suggested by scholars that small portable objects from the early Byzantine period with the image of the Annunciation may have been used as fertility amulets, but none have examined this in detail. This thesis is the first detailed investigation of the possibility that six sardonyx cameos from sixth-seventh century Constantinople functioned as Christian fertility amulets. I propose that the cameos developed from the late antique tradition of gynecological amulets and could have been used as fertility amulets by women. The cameos emphasize Mary's position as a role model for women and encourage an act of mimesis. This study shows the contrast between the condemnation of amulets and magic by Church authorities and the approved use of gemstones as well as the survival of Pre-Christian beliefs concerning them.