Bard Campus Calendar

[An Amulet for Abortion? Ancient Reproduction from a Modern Perspective]

Classical Studies Program Presents

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

An Amulet for Abortion? Ancient Reproduction from a Modern Perspective

Olin, Room 203
5:00 pm

Tara Mulder, PhD
Visiting Assistant Professor, Vassar College

There are hundreds of Greco-Egyptian magical gems from the 1st–4th centuries CE that have been found all around the Mediterranean. Of these, more than a hundred have been identified as “uterine amulets,” distinguished by a symbolic representation of a uterus accompanied by Egyptian deities and Greek lettering. Current interpretations of these amulets reflect an ignorance of female experience in the ancient world, attributable in part to being written by male scholars. For example, most interpretations focus on only a narrow range of uterine conditions that the amulets may be aimed at curing, and they assume abortion was always an unwanted outcome. In fact, it is likely that certain amulets were intended not to prevent but to induce abortion. In this talk I will give an overview of ancient ideologies of reproduction, with a focus on attitudes toward abortion. I will demonstrate what modern scholars have missed in their analysis of the ancient evidence, including medical and scientific texts, magical papyri, and the uterine amulets. 

For more information, call 845-758-6822, or e-mail

Time: 5:00 pm

Location: Olin, Room 203