Arslan Tash amulets

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The Arslan Tash amulets are talismans found at Arslan Tash (Turkish: Arslan Taş, literally "Stone Lion") in northwest Syria, the site of ancient Hadatu. They are to be distinguished from larger finds such as the Arslan Tash reliefs.

In 1933, Robert du Mesnil du Buisson purchased from a peasant[1] two inscribed limestone plaques "Arslan Tash 1" ("AT1") and the smaller "Arslan Tash 2" ("AT2") which are now in the Museum of Aleppo. His drawings and photographs of AT1 were published in 1939.[2] Count du Mesnil du Buisson made gypsum casts of the tablets, though these are now lost.[3] Since the small rectangular plaque had a hole in one end it was identified as an amulet. On the obverse is a lamassu (a winged lion with a human head, a talismanic figure) standing over a she-wolf with a scorpion's tail (a demonic figure) devouring a male or female figure. On the reverse is a marching god with late-Assyrian headgear carrying an axe instead of the expected lightning bolt.


Working from du Mesnil du Buisson's photographs, and in some cases casts, the text on the plaque "AT1" was translated from the Phoenician by Dupont-Sommer (1939),[4] Albright (1939),[5] Gaster (1942)[6] (1947)[7] Torczyner (1947)[8] Cross and Saley (1970)[9] Texidor (1971)[10] Caquot (1973),[11] and Röllig (1974).[12] Albright introduced some readings which have now been shown to be incorrect; modern scholarship now follows Caquot.[citation needed]

The text includes a broken word lly- which with the addition of -t could possibly be analogous to the Hebrew Lilith, or ll wyn "night and day".[13][14]

Mesnil du Buisson and Caquot published AT2 in 1971. It shows a male demon, "m-z-h".


The authenticity of the amulets AT1 and AT2 has been questioned, particularly by J. Teixidor and P. Amiet (1983), who examined the originals in the National Museum of Aleppo.[15][16] However Jacobus van Dijk (1992) defends the tablets as genuine.[17][18] Dennis Pardee (1998) leaves the matter open to question.[19][20][21]


  1. ^ Syria 75-76 Edmond Pottier, René Dussaud, Gaston Migeon - 1998 "En tout cas, ce paysan les a vendus "pour un faible prix" au Comte du Mesnil du Buisson lors de sa visite du site"
  2. ^ Robert du Mesnil du Boisson, “Une tablette magique de la région du moyen Euphrate,” in Mélanges syriens offerts a monsieur René Dussaud par ses amis et ses élèves 1, Paris, 1939, 421-34
  3. ^ Letter from Prof. Caquot to van Dijk, dated 13 October 1989
  4. ^ A. Dupont-Sommer: “L'Inscription de l'amulette d'Arslan Tash” in RHR, Paris, 1939,
  5. ^ BASOR 1939
  6. ^ T. H. Gaster: “A Canaanitic Magical Text” in OR, Rome, 1942, Vol. XI, p. 41ff 4.
  7. ^ Gaster "The Magical Inscription from Arslan Tash," JNES 6 (1947), pp. 186-188;
  8. ^ H. Torczyner, "A Hebrew Incantation Against Night Demons from Biblical Times," JNES 6 (1947) on JSTOR
  9. ^ Frank Moore Cross, Jr. and Richard J. Saley, "Phoenician Incantations on a Plaque of the Seventh Century b.c. from Arslan Tash in Upper Syria", BASOR 197 (1970), 42-9.
  10. ^ J. Teixidor, Syria 48 (1971), 472-4.
  11. ^ A. Caquot, "Observations sur la Premiere Tablette Magique d'Arslan Tash", JANES 5 (1973), 45-51.
  12. ^ W. Röllig: “Die Amulette von Arslan Tash” in Neue Ephemeris für Semitische Epigraphik. Wiesbaden, 1974,
  13. ^ Manfred Hutter, Sylvia Hutter-Braunsar Offizielle Religion, lokale Kulte und individuelle Religiosität 2004
  14. ^ Guy Bunnens,J. D. Hawkins,I. Leirens A new Luwian stele and the cult of the storm-god at Til Barsib-Masuwari
  15. ^ J. Texidor, 'Les tablettes d'Arslan Tash au Musee d'Alep', Aula Orientalis 1(1983), pp. 105-8 (106).
  16. ^ P. Amiet, 'Observations sur les "Tabletter Magiques" d'Arslan Tash', Aula Orientalis 1(1983), p. 109
  17. ^ van Dijk pdf
  18. ^ Oscar White Muscarella The lie became great: the forgery of ancient Near Eastern cultures 2000 Page 181 "In their most recent publication by J. van Dijk, "The Authenticity of the Arslan Tash Amulets," Iraq, LIV, 1992: pp. 65-68, they are claimed as authentic"
  19. ^ D. Pardee, Les documents d' Arslan Tash : authentiques ou faux?, Syria 75 (1998) pp 15-54
  20. ^ Judit M. Blair De-demonising the Old Testament 2009 Page 27 "On a seventh or eighth century BCE limestone plaque, discovered at Arslan Tash, Syria, we have an incantation to expel child-killing demons ... Torczyner argues that the incantation is directed against the demons of darkness in general"
  21. ^ Yitsḥaḳ Avishur Phoenician inscriptions and the Bible: select inscriptions 2000