How Much do You Know about Ancient Egyptian Amulets?

A.J.

Amulets had a very important role in the culture and religion of Ancient Egypt. They were worn both by the living and by the dead, being believed to protect against various dangers or endow the wearer with special characteristics. Since, as we all know, life after death was incredibly important to Ancient Egyptians, let's take a look at some of the amulets used for the deceased and see what their purpose was.

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1

The Frog Amulet

The Frog Amulet The frog amulet, or the amulet of Heqet, was made of various materials, including copper, gold, or stone, and depicted the Frog-Headed Goddess of life and fertility. When worn by the deceased, it conferred on them the power of resurrection, and it was also believed to protect against violation of the tomb. The frog amulet was worn by the living too, being seen as a talisman for a long life and thought to improve fertility, as well as protecting against suffering, sickness and pain.

2

The Heart Amulet

The Heart Amulet This talisman was, of course, placed on the heart of the departed, so as to replace the actual heart – which had to be taken out during the mummification process. The amulet brought the protection of both Osiris (the god of the afterlife) and Ra (the Sun God, the god who created everything). The shape of the talisman is, in fact, that of the urn where they kept the actual heart of the deceased. The heart amulet is believed to have been of great importance to Ancient Egyptians, especially considering that the famous Book of the Dead had six chapters dedicated to it.

3

The Scarab Amulet

The Scarab Amulet The scarab was a highly revered symbol in Ancient Egypt – it was as sacred to the Egyptians as the symbol of the cross is to Christianity. This amulet was placed on the deceased's heart as well, and it symbolized the invisible power of creation and eternal renewal – a reminder of the life to come.

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Carved meticulously from precious stones such as lapis lazuli, carnelian, or fashioned from blue or green glazed pottery, these beetle-shaped talismans were often inscribed with hieroglyphics. They were thought to protect the heart of the bearer, both in life and in the afterworld, offering the assurance of rebirth and a safe journey through the underworld. The impression of the wings symbolizes the spread of life, fusing a protective embrace over the spiritual essence of the person it adorned. Truly, the beauty and significance of these amulets have transcended time, captivating both ancients and modern enthusiasts alike.

4

The Headrest Amulet

The Headrest Amulet This amulet had both a practical and a spiritual purpose. On a practical level, it physically supported the head of the departed within the coffin. On a more celestial level, according to the Book of the Dead, the headrest had two important roles. First of all, it raised up the head of the departed in regeneration – at the beginning of a spell in the Book of the Dead, the deceased are told to raise themselves, so that they will be triumphant over what has been done against them. Secondly, it also protected the head against being removed. The spell ended with the assurance that the head of the deceased will not be taken from them after burial – "your head shall not be taken from you forever". So many chills down my spine now!

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In Ancient Egypt, the belief was that such amulets would weave powerful magic for the wearers, even beyond death. For the living, these charms could spell out fortune and fertility, but for the deceased, they were tokens to ensure safe passage and resurrection. A headrest amulet was not just an object placed within tombs; it symbolized stability, keeping the mental and spiritual faculties of the mummified intact. Imagine it as a guardian, perched beneath their heads, ensuring that they would face the gods undiminished, their essence eternally preserved. How fascinating is their dedication to the afterlife?

5

The Djed Amulet

The Djed Amulet This amulet symbolizes the backbone of Osiris and was placed near the lower torso, on the chest or around the neck. It represented endurance and stability and gave the body of the deceased the power to reconstitute itself in Duat (the Underworld).

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The Djed amulet was one of the most popular and powerful amulets in ancient Egypt. It was believed to protect the deceased in the afterlife and ensure their successful journey to the underworld. The symbol of the backbone was associated with the god Osiris, who was known as the god of the dead and the ruler of the underworld. The Djed amulet was often made of materials such as gold, silver, or faience and was decorated with hieroglyphs and symbols of resurrection. It was also commonly placed in tombs and used in funerary rituals to provide the deceased with strength and stability in the afterlife.

6

The Serpent Amulet

The Serpent Amulet The talisman could be placed anywhere on the body and brought the protection of Isis, the great Snake-Goddess. It had the power to prevent the body of the deceased from being devoured by the snakes of the Underworld.

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The amulet's enchantment was steeped in the ancient Egyptian belief in the afterlife's perils. Adorned with the likeness of Isis in her serpent form, this potent symbol served more than just a mere decorative piece. It encapsulated both the protector and destroyer aspects of the goddess, ensuring that the soul navigates safely through the netherworld. Wearers of the Serpent Amulet sought harmony with the cyclical nature of life and death, embodying the divine wisdom and regeneration that Isis represented.

7

The Knot of Isis

The Knot of Isis Yet another amulet reaching out to the Snake-Goddess, this talisman was attached to the neck of the mummy and symbolized divine love. It was believed to bring the protection of Isis' blood and her words of power, which managed to bring Osiris back to life.

These were only 7 of the numerous amulets used in Ancient Egypt for protection or for granting special powers. Which one impressed you the most? Would you like to tell us about others you may know of?

Sources:
wcma.williams.edu
metmuseum.org
britishmuseum.org
mummies2pyramids.info
museum.unl.edu

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The Ancient Egyptians did not remove the heart during mummification. The liver, intestines, stomach and lungs were removed and kept in canopic jars. The brain was also removed, but discarded.

And the key of life... Amazing culture !

You've forgotten the ankh... A symbol for "life", and the eye of Horus which was the symbol of protection, good health and power. The scarab amulet was carried as a good luck symbol and also wrapped in the layers around a mummy.

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