What Are Egyptian Amulets?

Ancient Egyptians often wore amulets as jewelry.
Ancient Egyptians often wore amulets as jewelry. (Image: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

The word amulet is derived from the Latin amuletum, which refers to an object that protects a person. An amulet is a small talisman that is often worn as jewelry, or simply carried. In ancient Egypt, many amulets were the shape of an animal, or took the form of hieroglyphics, gods or humans. They were intended to offer certain benefits to its bearer. The shape, color and substance of an amulet was always a direct reference to whatever strength its owner was seeking.

Wedjat Eye

The wedjat eye, made of blue or green faience (tin-glazed pottery), was commonly used for mummies. It was carved as the eye of Horus, or a falcon's eye. This amulet was believed to have regenerative and protective benefits. It was also sometimes used to represent food for the deceased.

Heart Amulet

When an Egyptian person died, a heart amulet was placed in the bandages to represent the real organ that was removed from the body during the process of mummification, ensuring the person's good health during their afterlife. It was also believed to encourage good thoughts and conscience.

The Scarab

The scarab amulet is related to the heart in that it was placed over the heart of the deceased. It was also thought to have regenerative powers, thus giving a new birth to the body. They were typically made from green or blue stone, such as granite or basalt.

The Pillow

Pillow amulets were found underneath the neck of the mummy, and thought to lift and protect the head of the deceased. They were usually made of haematite and inscribed with text from a chapter of the Book of the Dead, a funerary text.

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