Since talmudic times, Jews have used amulets to guard themselves from spiritual and physical harm, and even in the 18th century it was commonplace for rabbis to give lay people amulets with supposed kabbalistic powers. Forty years ago, a resident of the Galilean village of Arbel discovered an amulet from the 6th century CE, which her heirs recently turned over to the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA). Rossella Tercatin writes:
Shaped like a triangle, the pendant on one side features the figure of a horse rider whose head is surrounded with a halo. The rider is depicted in the act of throwing a sphere at a female figure on the ground, surrounded by an inscription in Greek reading: “The One God Who Conquers Evil.”
Under the horse, the Greek letters I A W O appear, the equivalent of the Hebrew [four-letter] divine name. The opposite side of the object presents an eye pierced by arrows and surrounded by dangerous animals—two lions, a snake, a scorpion and a bird—as well as another Greek inscription reading “One God.”
In spite of the use of non-Jewish symbolism, the fact that the object was found in Arbel, which was a Jewish settlement in the Byzantine period, suggests that the object actually belonged to a Jew.