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Oxyrhynchus: A City and its Texts, Virtual Exhibition: Daily Life

Magical amulet: Fifth century AD

The spread of Christianity did not bring an end to magical practices; the new religion was absorbed into the magical repertoire as the older religions had been. This little item is a perfect example; the text, which would have been rolled up and carried as a good luck charm, carries a copy of the apocryphal letter of Abgar of Edessa to Jesus Christ (line 2) in Jerusalem. The text of the letter is interrupted by a prayer in semi-Coptic to heal Epimachus, obviously the amulet’s owner, and further adapted at the end with magical signs and a quotation from the Psalms.

The Oxyrhynchus Papyri vol.LXV no.4469