The Egyptians wore amulets alongside other pieces of jewellery. They were decorative, but also served a practical purpose, being considered to bestow power and protection upon the wearer. Many of the amulets have been found inside the wrappings of mummies, as they were used to prepare the deceased for the afterlife.
Amulets held different meanings, depending on their type or form. Small amulets depicting gods and goddesses seem to have induced the protective powers of the deity. On the other hand, small representations of anatomical features or creatures suggest that the wearer required protection over a specific body part, or that he/she desired the skills of a particular animal.
The heart was considered by the Egyptians to be the most important organ, not because it pumped blood around the body, but because it was the seat of intelligence; the origin of all feelings and actions; and the store of memory. The heart became one of the most important of all amulets and was set on every mummy, deemed to protect the heart of the beholder.
Much recent research on mummies has found that many suffered from atherosclerosis, a condition where fat and calcium build up in the arteries. This is thought to have been a significant killer in Ancient Egypt. Perhaps this amulet suggests that the ancients knew that there was some form of problem with the heart and the amulet attempted to resolve it.
To find out more about Ancient Egyptian amulets please see our relevant blog post: Egyptian Amulets and their Meanings.