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Scientists from the University of Münster have unearthed 600 amulets, stamp and cylinder seals dating from the 7th through the 4th centuries BC at the archaeological site of the ancient city of Doliche (modern Dülük) in southeastern Turkey.
“Such large amounts of seal consecrations are unheard-of in any comparable sanctuary,” said Prof Engelbert Winter, director of excavations.
The artifacts were found at the sacred site of the storm and weather god Jupiter Dolichenus.
“The amazingly large number proves how important seals and amulets were for the worshipping of the god to whom they were consecrated as votive offerings. Thus, they provide a surprisingly vivid and detailed insight into the faith of the time,” Prof Winter said.
The seals as well as scarabs, made of glass, stone and quartz ceramics, were mostly crafted in a high-quality manner.
The artifacts, identified as late Babylonian, local Syrian Achaemenid and Levantine seals, were found at the sacred site of the storm and weather god Jupiter Dolichenus, one of the most important deities of the Roman Empire
The cult gained popularity in the 2nd century AD and reached a peak under the Severan dynasty in the early 3rd century AD. At least seventeen temples are known to have been built in Rome and the provinces which, while substantial, is far below the popularity enjoyed by Mithras, Isis or Cybele.
Unlike these Mystery Cults, the worship of Jupiter Dolichenus was very fixed on its oriental origins and the cult soon died out following the fall of the city of Doliche to the Sassanids in the mid-3rd century AD.