Archaeologists working in Cyprus discovered a 1,500-year-old amulet that features an interesting palindrome inscription on one side.
The ancient amulet was reportedly discovered in the city of Nea Paphos, located in southwest Cyprus. On one side of the amulet, several drawings are carved in, but on the other side, an inscription written in Greek reads the same backward as it does forward, and the translation of the message has a special meaning.
The message reads, “lahweh (a god) is the bearer of the secret name, the lion of Re secure in his shrine."
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Live Science reports that similar palindromes have been discovered in other places in the past, but this particular amulet has a number of features that are unusual, suggesting that the person or persons who created it didn’t have a full understanding of the mythological characters represented.
“It must be stated that the depiction is fairly unskilled and schematic,” writes Joachim Śliwa, a professor at Jagiellonian University. “It is iconographically based on Egyptian sources, but these sources were not fully understood by the creator of the amulet.”
Live Science goes on to explain that, “rather than sitting on a stool, Harpocrates should be sitting on a lotus flower, with legs drawn up.” Additionally, the amulet is unusual because “the dog-headed cynocephalus should not be mimicking Harpocrates.”
“We can find no justification for the cynocephalus's gesture of raising its right paw to its lips in a manner similar to Harpocrates,” Śliwa wrote.
Experts are still trying to figure out the meaning behind some of the qualities of this ancient amulet.