The unique amulet combines a Chistian and a Pagan images
A unique archaeological discovery, a silver amulet dating back to the 12th century was made at a building site in the Moscow region where the DON-Stroi construction company is building a new house for the Moscow regional administration. The rare amulet was found by workers of the Archaeology Institute.
The DON-Stroi press-service reported on Monday that a scene of Christ's baptizing in the Jordan River is coined on the face of a round plate of 4 centimeters in diameter. On the reverse side, there is a fantastic creature with woman's body and 11 snakes growing out of her legs.
As we know from the Slav legends, a woman with snakes instead of the hair is a modification of the antique Gorgon Meduse; a glance at her face inevitably entails death. One of the Magi, who managed to decapitate the Gorgon, acquired miraculous strength. Another transformation of the Gorgon image in the Slav apocryphal stories is the beast of Gorgonia that guards the Eden from humans after the Fall of man. Iconography of the Gorgon head is typical of popular Byzantine and Old Russian amulets.
Specialists say that amulets of this kind are rather rare. This combination of a canonical Christian topic and a pagan image may belong to the epoch of dual faith when pagan traditions were still very strong. It was rather typical of that period that images belonging to Christianity were depicted on one side of amulets and images with snakes and spells protecting from diseases – on the other one.
Such amulets usually belonged to Old Russian aristocracy, to Princes and their families. Specialists say that the newly found amulet is worth exhibiting in the Kremlin's Armory Museum.
According to the DON-Stroi construction firm, the discovery is in wonderful condition even despite the fact that it remained under the ground for over 800 years. It was discovered in the undisturbed cultural layer belonging to the 12-13th centuries at a depth of 45 centimeters on the territory of a medieval village known by the name Myakinino-1. This settlement is even older than Moscow. Usually, such amulets were found during archeological digging in large medieval cities of Russia.
In Old Russia such amulets were called coil serpentines; people living in the pre-Christian epoch wore them instead of underclothes crosses and used them as protection from diseases.
Later, images of Christian saints were depicted on amulets. The name of the amulet (coil serpentine) is explained with the fact that the sun and 6, 7, 8 or 12 snakes as sun rays was depicted on one side of such amulets. In the next epochs, saints fighting with serpents (George the Victorious for example) were coined on amulets as well.