An Ancient Greek Palindrome Has Been Discovered on this Amulet

Archaeologists working in Cyprus have discovered a 1,500-year-old amulet with a 59-letter inscription that reads the same backwards as it does forwards.

As LiveScience reports, the amulet, which measures 1.4 inches by 1.6 inches, was discovered at the ancient city of Nea Paphos in Southwest Cyprus. On one side there are several images, including a wrapped mummy lying on a boat (likely the Egyptian god Osiris), and a mythical dog-headed creature called a cynocephalus. But it's the amulet's flip side that's interesting. The palindrome, written in Greek, reads like this:


Translated, it means, "Iahweh is the bearer of the secret name, the lion of Re secure in his shrine." Iaweh being the name of a Greek god. From the LS article:

Researchers have found similar palindromes elsewhere in the ancient world writes Joachim Śliwa, a professor at the Institute of Archaeology at Jagiellonian University in Kraków, Poland, in an article recently published in the journal Studies in Ancient Art and Civilization.

Śliwa notes that the scribe made two small mistakes when writing this palindrome, in two instances writing a "ρ" instead of "v."

The amulet was discovered in the summer of 2011 by archaeologists with the Paphos Agora Project. Led by Jagiellonian University professor Ewdoksia Papuci-Wladyka, this team is excavating an ancient agora at Nea Paphos, and uncovered this amulet during their work. Agoras served as gathering places in the ancient world.

Amulets like the one found at Nea Paphos were made to protect their owners from danger and harm, Papuci-Wladyka told Live Science in an email.

More at LiveScience.

Image: Photo by Marcin Iwan, artifact from the excavations of Jagiellonian University in Krakow at Paphos Agora


Share This Story

Get our newsletter