Magical Tools and Objects in ancient Egypt

Oct 24, 2010

Magical Tools and Objects in ancient Egypt
A wooden figurine representing the divine magician
Beset She has jointed arms  wears a mask  and holds
two copper serpents  Found with a group of magical
objects and papyri in a tomb near the Ramesseum at
Thebes (c.1700 BC). 
Two interesting groups of objects have been discovered that clearly belonged to two magicians.
One was found in a hole in the floor of a room in a house of Kahun (the pyramid workmen’s town) and included a wooden, masked figurine (representing a magician in a costume with a tail) and a pair of ivory clappers. In the next room there was a full-size cartonnage mask representing the god Bes. It is likely that these items were worn and used by a local magician in some kind of ritual ceremony in which he sought to imitate Bes and take on his magical powers.


The other group was discovered in a tomb near to the funerary temple of Ramesses II at Thebes. This probably belonged to a temple priest and was of the same date as the Kahun material (Dynasty 12). It included a wooden box containing papyri; figures in glaze, stone, wood, and metal, which were probably used as substitutes for living persons once they had been magically animated; ivory wands with which magic working circles were delineated; and ivory pieces incised with figures of animals, designed to expel evil forces and capture the animals’ strength and power.

These two groups provide a unique opportunity to compare contemporary sets of equipment; one probably belonged to a priest-magician who practiced his art in a temple, while the other was owned by a magician who used his skills to help his community.

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