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.
Horus was one of the most significant Ancient Egyptian deities. He is most commonly depicted with the head of a falcon, and the body of a man. Horus was a sun and moon deity, and it was said that his right eye was the sun, and the left was the moon. The eye of Horus, also known as ‘Wedjat’, was an ancient symbol of protection, particularly for the afterlife, and was also used to deflect evil. For this reason it was often worn or hung on the deceased at burial. It was highly influential in Egyptian life, with ancient sailors painting the image on the bow of their vessels to ward off evil.
There are six key parts to the Eye of Horus and each has its own value: the eyebrow represents thought; the pupil stands for sight; the triangle between the pupil and the white of the eye is hearing, whereas the white of the eye is smell; the spiral curve, or tail, represents taste; and the teardrop is touch.
To find out more about Ancient Egyptian amulets please see our relevant blog post: Egyptian Amulets and their Meanings: Ancient Egyptian Gods.