How to use ancient Egypt magic Amulets part 4/7

May 11, 2011

How to use ancient Egypt magic Amulets part 4/7
Multiple wedjat eye amulet in green and black faience, mid 1st millennium BC. The two pairs of divine eyes are separated by papyrus columns which symbolize growth and vitality.
Amulets were important to the Egyptians at all periods, but fashions in amulets changed. The use of amulets in Egypt goes back to the time before literacy. Around 4000 BC;, objects which archaeologists have classed as amulets start to occur in graves. It is impossible to be sure what such objects meant to the grave-owner. Among the earliest man-made amulets are small hippopotamus pendants in shell, ivory or stone
In later times, the female hippopotamus was a common amulet associated with the protection of pregnant women and young children.


At this early period, the aggressive male hippopotomi were still hunted for meat and ivory, so it is just as likely that the pendants were charms to secure success and safety in the hunt.
Graves of the late fourth millennium BC contain a slightly greater variety of amulets in a much wider range of materials.
These include bird, lion and claw shapes. The unification of Egypt around 3100 BC, and the creation of a court culture, does not seem to have had an immediate effect on everyday beliefs. The same range of amulets continued in ordinary graves, but animal pendants in fine goldwork have survived from elite burials of the early third millennium BC.
Inscribed seals became more important as literacy spread.
During the Pyramid Age (c..2700—2200 BC), there was a great flowering of Egyptian sculpture. Magnificent statues were made and detailed reliefs were carved to decorate royal burial complexes, temples of the sun god and the tombs of favoured officials. Few of the people depicted in these statues or reliefs wear much in the way of amulets.
The full range of amuletic jewellery is not in fact shown in painting or relief at any period. Art in tombs and temples was intended to evoke a perfect world in which there would be none of the crises or terrors that required the use of amulets.
If the scenes of daily life in tombs of the third millennium BC are taken at face value, you would imagine a culture with few religious observances or superstitions. The contents of humbler graves, on the other hand, suggest a complex system of beliefs in which amulets were highly important.
Women and children of this period were buried with cords strung with beads, seals and amulets.
These amulets are often tiny, but they are made in a wide range of materials, including gold, glazed steatite, alabaster and carnelian. They may be in the form of parts of the human body, such as a leg, a fist or an open hand; or of creatures such as falcons, frogs, scorpions and ibises
It is unclear if these creatures should be interpreted so early as the animal forms of deities. A scorpion amulet might be either the goddess Serqet, or simply an image of a venomous insect used to repel danger.
The ibis is more likely to be a form of Thoth, and some amulets of this period definitely show supernatural beings, such as the Heh gods and the Aker. In Egyptian myth, the Heh gods helped Shu to separate the earth and sky

A Heh figure was used in the hieroglyphic script to write the word for a 'million' or 'very many'. This amulet was worn to procure many years of life, on earth and in the hereafter. The Aker was an earth god, usually shown as a double lion or sphinx
This god guarded the entrance to the underworld and is frequently mentioned in The
Pyramid Texts and The Coffin Texts. People who were not wealthy or important enough to own funerary texts in hieroglyphs still wore amulets derived from them. This suggests that Egyptian theology reached beyond the court elite.
In the twenty-second century BC, the country broke up under rival dynasties. This momentous political change does not seem to have had much economic or cultural effect on the lives of ordinary people.
Amulets in precious materials were still common. The number of amulet types definitely based on the iconography of Egyptian gods increased. The composite form of Taweret, the mask of the goddess Hathor and the type of lion-dwarf later known as Bes are the most notable of these.
Amuletic strings still included models of parts of the body. The standard explanation is that these amulets were to ensure the continued use of various limbs and organs in the afterlife.
Since many of these strings were worn in life, they may also have had a function in everyday magic. The fist, hand, and finger amulets probably derive from magical protective gestures. It is possible that the foot amulet was associated with trampling enemies 

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