The Purpose of Amulets in Ancient Egyptian History

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Annotated Bibliography: New Kingdom Egyption Jewellry
In Ancient Egyptian culture, an amulet, is a small object that a person wears, carries, or offers to a deity because he or she believes that it will magically bestow a particular power or form of protection. The conviction that a symbol, form, or concept provides protection, promotes well-being, or brings good luck is common to all societies, in our own, we commonly wear religious symbols, carry a favorite penny, or a rabbit's foot. In ancient Egypt, amulets might be carried, used in necklaces, bracelets, or rings, and—especially—placed among a mummy's bandages to ensure the deceased a safe, healthy, and productive afterlife. Egyptian amulets functioned in a number of ways. Symbols and deities generally conferred the powers that they represented. Magic contained in an amulet could be understood not only from its shape, but material, color, scarcity, the grouping of several forms, and words said or ingredients rubbed over the amulet could all be the source for magic granting the possessor's wish.

Small representations of animals seem to have functioned as amulets in the Predynastic Period (ca. 4500–3100 B.C.). In the Old Kingdom (ca. 2649–2150 B.C.), most amulets took an animal form or were symbols (often based on hieroglyphs), although generalized, human forms occurred. Amulets depicting recognizable deities begin to appear in the Middle Kingdom (ca. 2030–1640 B.C.), and the New Kingdom (ca. 1550–1070 B.C.) showed a further increase in the range of amulet forms. With the Third Intermediate Period (ca. 1070–712 B.C.)."

It is said that Egyptians always had knowledge of metal work but the existence of metal being used for jewelry dates back to the Predynastic era in the Ancient Empire. Before metals and stones were worn, Egyptians used painted bones, shells and wood and for their jewelry. Starting from the New Kingdom, all social classes wore amulets. The wearing of these religious items was widespread by both sexes alike, since all people needed the protection it provided. Lower social classes made their amulets from cheap materials such as colored clay and fake reproductions

There was an explosion in the quantity of amulets, and many new types, especially deities, appeared. - As with other forms of Egyptian art, design of jewelry followed strict rules to fulfill it's religious role. Any change in the representation of religious symbols resulted in a loss of protective value. It was undesirable to change the designs of any objects such as the royal cartouches or crook and flail. Every material had a religious value - Minerals and metals were identified with specific deities as well as with specific spiritual and therapeutic values. Every color had a certain mythological meaning, and the use of colored gems were confined to this code

The use of inlays of gold, precious stones, or glass was very common in earrings and other jewellry of the New Kingdom (1550-1070 BC). Pierced ears were just as fashionable for men as they were for women during the New Kingdom. Several pairs of elaborate earrings were found in the intact tomb of Tutankhamun. Earrings were made in many shapes and of many types of material. Wall paintings in the tomb of Nebamun show women wearing large gold earrings. These were elements of their best attire, worn on special occasions. Such adornments are not restricted to the wealthy guests at the banquet, but are also part of the elaborate dress of the singers, musicians and dancers.

The scarab is one such symbol that is commonly used in Egyptian jewelry. This symbol signifies rebirth. This sacred scarab enjoyed an important position between the ancient Egyptians. Generally, such scarabs were crafted from green stones. These were always placed with the chest of the deceased. This is evident from the excavations carried out by numerous archaeologists. The ankh is yet another symbol that is seen amongst Egyptian ornaments. The meaning of this...
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