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.
The god Thoth is known as the keeper and recorder of all knowledge, and as the inventor of language. Ma’at, his wife, is the Egyptian concept of truth, balance, order, law, morality, and justice. Thoth is often depicted as a man with the head of a baboon or ibis, as these animals were scared to him. He is usually shown as an ape in underworld settings, whereas he features in paintings and carvings predominantly as an ibis.
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. Perhaps the owner of this amulet wished to evoke Thoth’s knowledge, and his wife’s morality and truth.
To find out more about Ancient Egyptian amulets please see our relevant blog post: Egyptian Amulets and their Meanings: Ancient Egyptian Gods.