Artemission Explores Egyptian Amulets
A societal fear of unseen forces inspired the Ancient Egyptians to create a robust tradition of amulet art, examples of which you can purchase from Artemission.
An amulet can be defined as “an object that protects a person from trouble.” Amulets have been found throughout most societies across time including our own, e.g. the ‘good luck penny.’ There’s some evidence to suggest that they were being made as far back as the Upper Palaeolithic Age. We do know that amulets were being produced to protect people from the ‘evil eye,’ an almost universal belief found on every continent, by the Mesopotamians around five thousand years ago.
The Ancient Egyptians also believed that amulets protected them from unseen forces, and they were worn by both the living and the dead. The Egyptians were already making small representations of animals as amulets in the Pre-Dynastic Period (4,500 B.C. – 3,100 B.C.). During the Old Kingdom (2,649 B.C. – 2,150 B.C.) Middle Kingdom (2,030 B.C. – 1,640 B.C.) and New Kingdom (1550 B.C. – 1070 B.C.) amulet making evolved into a mass-production industry.
Egyptian amulets could protect against specific dangers, provide luck, endow the wearer with unique characterises; they had a whole host of functions. The most famous of the Ancient Egypt amulet designs is the ‘Eye of Horus;’ a symbol of protection, royal power and good health. Other commonly-known amulet designs include the ‘Scarab’ which became popular in Ancient Egypt during the Middle Kingdom, around 2,000 B.C, and was thought to protect the deceased in the afterlife.
In order to imbue amulets with these powers, it was believed that makers must follow specific instructions set out in the Ancient Egyptian holy text, The Book of the Dead. Therefore the shape, colour and material of the talisman was of paramount importance. Egyptian amulets were crafted into the shapes of animals (the ‘Scarab’ was a beetle), plants, sacred objects e.g. (the ‘Eye of Horus’), deities and hieroglyphic symbols.
The stone implanted in the amulet was of particular importance. A number of precious stones were used to produce Egyptian protection jewellery including carnelian, red jasper, hematite, mother-of-emerald and turquoise. It was believed that each stone represented a different characteristic and god, imbuing a different power e.g. luck, fertility into the talisman. For example, the ‘Eye of Horus’ was often made with green stones such as turquoise to impart protection to the wearer.
This strong belief in the power of certain stones, materials and shapes allowed the Ancient Egyptians to create breath-taking amulets. Many have survived through to the modern day, and you can buy a range of Ancient Egyptian amulets from the Egyptian Antiquities section of Artemission.com.
Artemission.com (Atticart Ltd.) is the leading antiquities gallery online. Starting the very first internet site dealing with authentic antiquities, Artemission specialise in ancient art from Egypt, the Mediterranean and Mesopotamia, as well as Islamic Art and Ancient Coins.