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Intriguing Roman ring from Silchester

This post is also available in: Polish (polski)

An intriguing Roman ring from Silchester
Intriguing Roman ring from Silchester

In 1785, an amazing golden Roman ring was discovered in a field near Silchester (southern England). As it turns out, the artifact changed its owners.

The ring is large for other Roman objects of this type. It is 2.5 cm in diameter and weighs 12 grams; which suggests that it was probably worn over a glove. The ring has 10 faces. It is dated to the 4th century CE.

Originally, the owner of the artifact was Silvianus, which was stolen by a certain “Senicianus”, who was then cursed by the owner. How do we know about this? Due to the discovery of a tablet with the curse (defixio) on the site of the former Roman temple in honour of the Celtic god Nodens, in Lydney (approx. 120 km further), which confirmed the imposition of the curse on the thief. Scientists linked the inscription to a mysterious ring. The curse:

DEVO NODENTI SILVIANVS ANILVM PERDEDIT DEMEDIAM PARTEM DONAVIT NODENTI INTER QVIBVS NOMEN SENICIANI NOLLIS PETMITTAS SANITATEM DONEC PERFERA VSQVE TEMPLVM DENTIS

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For the god Nodens. Silvianus has lost a ring and has donated one half [its worth] to Nodens. Among those named Senicianus permit no good health until it is returned to the temple of Nodens.

On the front of the ring is the image of the goddess Venus and the inscription on the back of her name – SUNEV. After the document was stamped, the naming was correct.

The ring also has an inscription of the new owner: SENICIANE VIVAS IIN DE, in which there is a mistake of using the letter “I” twice. As a result, there was no space for the letter “O” and we do not have a complete record of VIVAS IN DEO, or “live in God” – a characteristic phrase for Christians.

Sources

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