Amulets and Talismans at the AUB Museum
|Amulets and Talismans on sale at the Archaeological
Museum gift shop
In December, the AUB Archaeological Museum put on an intriguing display
of old amulets and talismans that attracted the attention of many passersby
on campus. A special lecture, held at the museum by Nevine Mattar, provided
some interesting facts on the history and particular meanings of charms
and their symbolic magic against the forces of evil.
Mattar, who is a professional Lebanese artist and illustrator, is a lecturer
at Haigazian University and the Lebanese American University and is well
known for her workshops for children. For her presentation, she prepared
an illustrated slideshow of amulets and talismans from different eras
As we all know, an amulet is an object that is carried or worn and is
meant to protect against evil. Similarly, a talisman is also carried or
worn, but for different reasons and is believed to bring luck, health,
and fecundity. Belief in such objects dates back to ancient Egypt and
has remained a prominent practice since the advent of monotheism. However,
the nature of amulets and talismans evolved in time, as did their powers.
Mattar outlined some of those changes. For example, a typical talisman
of fifth-century BC included pieces of hair from an animal, which was
believed to bring power in hunting. But as history progressed, the power
of the objects changed to accommodate the changing times. As Mattar explained,
during the early periods of monotheism, the amulets and talismans became
symbolic objects of respective religions, which then were believed to
bring forth wisdom, knowledge, immortality, and prosperity.
Mattar also mentioned some of today's modern amulets and talismans. The
shamrock is a symbol of Christianity, specifically of the Holy Trinity,
for instance, and the Islamic crescent represents the continuity of life.