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 god Pataikos is so-called after a passage in Herodotus, which describes the protection-possessing power belonging to the image of a Phoenician dwarf. He was known as the son of Ptah, the craftsman’s god. In Old Kingdom scenes depicting daily life, dwarfs were always present among the workers in precious metal workshops. The finest images of Pataikos date to the Third Intermediate period, and later Pataikos figures often held snakes, which made them harmless to people, especially vulnerable children. Pataikos was very popular from the New Kingdom onwards, providing protection from creatures like snakes and crocodiles.
To find out more about Ancient Egyptian amulets please see our relevant blog post: Egyptian Amulets and their Meanings: Ancient Egyptian Gods.