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16 Ancient Egyptian Amulets

Hematite, granoite, and glazed

Egypt
Late Period (746-332 BC)

Bequeathed by R. Greg
The Fitzwilliam Museum Cambridge, E.384.1954

Bequeathed/Given by R.G. Gayer-Anderson
The Fitzwilliam Museum Cambridge, E.GA.103.1949; E.GA.193-194.1949; E.GA.1569-1570.1943

Given by G. J. Chester
The Fitzwilliam Museum Cambridge, E.38.1891

Miniature headrests became popular from the Twenty-sixth Dynasty (663-525 BC) onwards, often replacing the full-size examples.

The oldest clearly dated amulet, in meteoric iron, was found in the bandages under the neck of King Tutankhamun, who died in 1323 BC; he was also buried with another nine real-size exemplars. Others were found at Tanis in the tombs of Prince Hornakht and King Sheshong II, of the Twenty-second Dynasty (945-745 BC). In the Eighteenth to the Nineteenth Dynasties (1580-1205 B.C.) they seem to have been a royal prerogative but they became more popular after the Twenty-second Dynasty, and then even more after the Twenty-sixth Dynasty (663-525 BC), and lasted through the Ptolemaic period. They were mainly made in hematite or black and dark coloured stone substitutes, such as basalt, serpentine, obsidian and diorite. A few are in jasper and in other materials; the colours green, blue and red symbolising regeneration were therefore suitable for protecting the dead in the After Life.

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