Coin amulet to protect against smallpox

300-1450 CE in Turkey

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Saucer-shaped Byzantine coin used as an amulet against smallpox
Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Very worn, saucer-shaped Byzantine coin used as an amulet against smallpox, produced in Asia Minor, 300-1450

The practice of carrying amulets or charms to bring good luck and good health through protection against disease has an extremely long history. This worn, slightly misshapen piece of copper was once a coin from Byzantium (modern day Istanbul), an ancient Greek city founded in the 600s BCE. More recently it has been carried as a protective amulet against smallpox.

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Science Museum: Medicine: The Wellcome Galleries

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Ethnography and Folk Medicine
Object Number:
coin and folk medicine (protection) amulet, coin and folk medicine (protection)
  • visual and verbal communication
  • exchange medium
  • currency
  • visual and verbal communication
  • exchange medium
  • currency
Loan, Wellcome Trust

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