Research Article

DOI :10.26650/anar.2022.1061883   IUP :10.26650/anar.2022.1061883    Full Text (PDF)

A Group of Gems with Isis-Tyche Depictions from Ankara

Melih ArslanYavuz Yeğin

This study evaluates 13 intaglio engraved ring stones from Ankara through their iconographic features. These artifacts come from the collections of the Ankara Museum of Anatolian Civilizations and the Erimtan Archaeology and Art Museum. The artifacts contain depictions of Isis and Isis-Tyche. Isis is known one of the chief goddesses in the ancient Egyptian belief system. When examining the iconography, more examples are encountered of the goddess depicted with her son Harpocrates and her husband Osiris However, due to the close cultural relations that were established over time, Isis was observed to have been combined with different goddesses from the Greek and Roman worlds. One of these goddesses is Tyche, the goddess of luck and fate. Isis and Tyche are depicted as integrated on the ring stones and amulets discussed here. In other words, the depictions are of Isis-Tyche. This study examines the ways in which the goddess Isis had developed an eclectic form with the new features she gained from the pantheon of the Greco-Roman world and how she was depicted as being integrated with other goddesses. Ring stones with depiction of Isis-Tyche were used as personal seals in the Roman Imperial Period, as well as being and were also believed to bring the wearer good health and protection from bad luck.

DOI :10.26650/anar.2022.1061883   IUP :10.26650/anar.2022.1061883    Full Text (PDF)

Ankara’dan Isis-Tykhe Betimli Sihirli Bir Grup Yüzük Taşı

Melih ArslanYavuz Yeğin

Bu çalışmada Ankara’dan 13 adet oyma yüzük taşı ikonografik özellikleri bağlamında değerlendirilmektedir. Söz konusu eserler Ankara Anadolu Medeniyetleri Müzesi ve Erimtan Arkeoloji ve Sanat Müzesi koleksiyonlarında yer almaktadır. Eserler üzerinde Isis ve Isis-Tykhe betimleri yer almaktadır. Isis’in Mısır inanç sisteminde yer alan baş tanrıçalardan biri olduğu bilinmektedir. İkonografiye bakıldığında tanrıçanın daha çok oğlu Harpokrates ve eşi Osiris (Serapis) ile birlikte betimlenmiş örnekleri ile karşılaşılmaktadır. Ancak zaman içinde özellikle kurulan yakın kültürel ilişkiler ile Isis’in Yunan ve Roma dünyasında farklı tanrıçalar ile kaynaştığı görülmektedir. Bu tanrıçalardan biri de şans ve kader tanrıçası Tykhe’dir. Buradaki yüzük taşlarında ve amuletler üzerinde, Isis ve Tykhe birleştirilmiş bir şekilde betimlenmiştir. Bu çalışmanın konusunu oluşturan eserler detaylı olarak incelendiğinde bunların Isis-Tykhe oldukları tespit edilmektedir. Isis-Tykhe betimli yüzük taşları, Roma İmparatorluk Dönemi’nde, kişisel mühür olarak kullanılmasının yanında, sağlık ve kötü kaderden korunma amacıyla da kullanılmıştır. Çalışmada tanrıçanın Greko-Romen dünyada kazandığı yeni özellikler ile eklektik bir forma büründüğü ve farklı tanrıçalar ile bütünleşmiş biçimde betimlendiği örnekler incelenmeye çalışılacaktır.


Amulets of different materials have been used from the earliest periods of human history up to the present in a wide variety of different cultural milieux. Stones of many different types were used for a variety purposes in Egypt and Mesopotamia, but semi-precious ring stones are associated especially with the technical innovations in the late Classical Hellenistic Greek and Roman Empires. From there, their use was continued directly into the early Christian and Byzantine periods and subsequently into the Islamic societies of the Near East to the present day.

The most general value of semi-precious stones when fitted into rings was as seals and/ or personal jewellery. Based on the Greek lithic tradition that was largely taken over from Babylonia and Egypt, such stones were clearly believed to have both protective and healing effects that could be enhanced by engraving specific designs on them. The 13 ring stones discussed in this article will be studied in this context. Two of the ring stones were found during the work conducted by the Ankara Juliopolis Necropolis Excavation, nine are currently in the possession of the Ankara Museum of Anatolian Civilizations, while the last two are in the Erimtan Archaeology and Art Museum, also in Ankara. All depict the goddess Isis either in one of her classic stances or fused with the goddess Tyche/Fortuna or some minor variation of her (e.g., an Isis-Athena-Nike combination is found in the Erimtan Museum). One of these latter examples is engraved with the name of the owner, Asklêpiodos, a very common theophoric name calqued from Asclepius, the god of medicine. Two items were found in Juliopolis, while the other 11 were acquired by purchase. All were able to be dated between the 1st-3rd centuries ce. Although their provenance is not known precisely, they do at least attest to the popularity of the motif in Anatolia.

As the sister/wife of Osiris and mother of Horus, Isis played an increasingly important role in Pharaonic Egyptian religion as lord of the mystery of life and birth. Starting in the New Kingdom, she was depicted wearing a headdress consisting of the cow-horns of the fertility goddess Hathor on either side of the sun-disk, all set on a crown of rearing uraeus serpents. In Pharaonic Egypt, she had already been equated with a whole range of other deities, primarily Ma’at as the principle of divine order and Heka as the cosmic principle of magic. The intense Greek interest in late-period Egypt began in the late Archaic period, and this interest stimulated the production of numerous descriptions and “factual” histories of the country during the Greek Classical period, the best known being Book 2 of Herodotus’ The Histories. With Alexander the Great’s conquest of Egypt in 332 bce and the advent of the Macedonian dynasty of the Ptolemies, worship of Isis spread widely throughout the Eastern Mediterranean, especially in the areas controlled or dominated by the Ptolemies such as Greece and parts of what is now the west coast of Turkey. With the invention of the syncretistic god Serapis, Isis came to form part of the sacred family of husband, mother, and child (Horus, then called Harpokrates). 

Just as Isis had been identified with many other deities in the later Pharaonic and Persian periods in Egypt, she was also equated in the Hellenistic period with many other goddesses in the Greek pantheon such as Demeter, Hera, Selene, Aphrodite, and Tyche. At the same time, a set of standard depictions of the goddess was established and remained largely unchanged thereafter. In the later Hellenistic period, however, evidence of the cult diminished markedly, only to revive at the end of the 1st century ce and again in the Roman imperial period in particular, when the cult spread rapidly into the Western Mediterranean.

In contrast with the case of Serapis, no full catalogue exists yet regarding Isis-types on gems, and thus no consensus exists yet regarding classification of the types that appear in this medium. However, a reasonably good selection is found from V. Tran tam Tinh (1990) in his article ‘Isis’ for the Lexicon Iconographicum Mythologiae Classicae, which has been adopted here. Based on his estimates, Isis-Tyche (Fortuna) types are the most common among the compound types. The goddess is standardly represented wearing a modius, long chiton and himation, and holding a steering-oar and cornucopiae (horn of fertility). She may also hold an ear of grain and a poppy-seed signifying prosperity or a sistrum signifying her sacred cultic rattle. Sometimes a flaming altar is shown beside her to indicate cultic worship. Tran tam Tinh further divides this general scheme into three categories: a) Isis shown with an Isis knot on her breast, b) Isis without such a knot, and c) Isis wearing a modius, lotus crown, and cow horns with an Apis bull or flaming altar beside her, holding the rudder in her right hand and cow’s head or falcon in the left.

In some previous publications, these types have on occasion been improperly identified as representations of Tyche rather than Isis-Tyche. This study sets out to correct this error and to discuss the possible reasons for the use of Isis-Tyche/Isis-Fortuna types on finger rings. Moreover and together with the many other cultural items, these types attest to the lively communication between the wider Greco-Roman world and Anatolia during the Roman Empire. Given the limited interest in Roman-period ring stones in Turkey, the study lastly aims to fill this gap and help extend awareness of these small but interesting artefacts. 

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Arslan, M., & Yeğin, Y. (2022). A Group of Gems with Isis-Tyche Depictions from Ankara. Anatolian Research, 0(26), 81-100.


Arslan M, Yeğin Y. A Group of Gems with Isis-Tyche Depictions from Ankara. Anatolian Research. 2022;0(26):81-100.


Arslan, M.; Yeğin, Y. A Group of Gems with Isis-Tyche Depictions from Ankara. Anatolian Research, [Publisher Location], v. 0, n. 26, p. 81-100, 2022.

Chicago: Author-Date Style

Arslan, Melih, and Yavuz Yeğin. 2022. “A Group of Gems with Isis-Tyche Depictions from Ankara.” Anatolian Research 0, no. 26: 81-100.

Chicago: Humanities Style

Arslan, Melih, and Yavuz Yeğin. A Group of Gems with Isis-Tyche Depictions from Ankara.” Anatolian Research 0, no. 26 (Aug. 2022): 81-100.

Harvard: Australian Style

Arslan, M & Yeğin, Y 2022, 'A Group of Gems with Isis-Tyche Depictions from Ankara', Anatolian Research, vol. 0, no. 26, pp. 81-100, viewed 8 Aug. 2022,

Harvard: Author-Date Style

Arslan, M. and Yeğin, Y. (2022) ‘A Group of Gems with Isis-Tyche Depictions from Ankara’, Anatolian Research, 0(26), pp. 81-100. (8 Aug. 2022).


Arslan, Melih, and Yavuz Yeğin. A Group of Gems with Isis-Tyche Depictions from Ankara.” Anatolian Research, vol. 0, no. 26, 2022, pp. 81-100. [Database Container],


Arslan M, Yeğin Y. A Group of Gems with Isis-Tyche Depictions from Ankara. Anatolian Research [Internet]. 8 Aug. 2022 [cited 8 Aug. 2022];0(26):81-100. Available from: doi: 10.26650/anar.2022.1061883


Arslan, Melih - Yeğin, Yavuz. A Group of Gems with Isis-Tyche Depictions from Ankara”. Anatolian Research 0/26 (Aug. 2022): 81-100.


Published Online29.07.2022


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