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. Amulets depicting animals were very common in the Old Kingdom Period, whilst representations of deities gained popularity in the Middle Kingdom.
Isis’ relevance in the Egyptian canon was manifold – she was the goddess most commonly associated with birth and creation, on account of her role in the Osirian myth. However, she was also the goddess of wisdom and magic, and kingship and the protection of the kingdom also fell within her domain. Perhaps the wearer of this amulet hoped that it would bring them fortune and protection across several of these spheres.
The goddess enjoyed widespread worship, which extended beyond the confines of Egypt – indeed, the secret cult of Isis in the Roman Empire received frequent mention in literature.
To find out more about the Ancient Egyptian amulets please see our relevant blog post: Egyptian Amulets and their Meanings: Ancient Egyptian Gods.