A 1,800-year old Roman brooch engraved with the letters “RMA” was found on the Isle of Wright in the United Kingdom and scientists say that it actually contains an interesting palindrome.
Depending on how the letters on the brooch (which dates back to a time when Britain was controlled by the Roman Empire) are read, they can have two different meanings. When read right to left, the letters form a monogram for “Amor” – the Latin name for Cupid, the god of desire, erotic love, affection and attraction.
However, when read from left to right, the letters form a monogram for “Roma” – which is the name of Dea Roma, a female deity who personified the city of Rome, according to researchers.
The researchers noted that the palindrome Roma-Amor was played on a lot and widely recognised in antiquity. Whether it is read forward or backwards, the phrase spells the same thing.
There might be another possible meaning for the brooch. For instance, if the person wore it together with another brooch that had the monogram for Mars – the god of war (his Greek counterpart is Ares) – then the meaning of the two brooches combined would have been “Rome, beloved of Mars” or “Rome, (city) of Mars,” the researchers wrote in their paper.
In December 2015, a person using a metal detector found the copper brooch. The person reported the discovery to the Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS), a voluntary programme run by the United Kingdom government to record small finds of archaeological interest.
Sally Worrell, a national finds adviser with the Portable Antiquities Scheme and one of the paper’s authors, said that the brooch probably used to be attached to a cloak or tunic.
The owner of the brooch was likely a Roman soldier or veteran. Similar brooches have also been found in garrisons in Eastern Europe and in southern Germany. So far, no Roman garrisons have been discovered on the Isle of Wright, but it is possible that in ancient times, Roman soldiers travelled to the island, according to the researchers.
In Wales and England, people can legally use metal detectors to find artefacts; however they have to avoid archaeological sited that have been granted protection by the government, and they have to get the landowner’s permission. Finds that are made of precious metal must be reported to the authorities.
The researchers will publish their new findings in the journal Lucerna.
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