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Gallery 19: Case 13

Ritual and 'Magic'

Specific objects were used in the rituals that formed an important part of Egyptian religion. It is difficult to draw a meaningful distinction between ritual and magic in an Egyptian context. Spells and texts that may seem 'magical' to us featured both in the prayers of individuals and in organised religious practice. Objects that may seem part of everyday life, such as rattles or cymbals, were used in religious ceremonies and so had a ritual significance.

Special priests carried out the more magical-seeming rites, while many ordinary people wore small amulets, such as figurines of particular gods, for personal protection. Other types of object also served to protect the owner during his or her lifetime and after death. Images of demons, often shown seated and holding a knife, were believed to protect those who invoked them and harm anyone who posed a threat. Demon images also appear on ivory 'wands' or ritual knives, used to ward off natural and supernatural threats.

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