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.
It is probable that the symbolic meaning of the owl was guardianship of the underworld, and the protection of the dead. The owl was considered the keeper of spirits, who had passed from one plane to another.
In the New Kingdom period, lion amulets were possibly expected to endow the wearer with ferocity and bravery (qualities often attributed to lions), but in later periods they performed a protective function. In addition, lions were thought to have regenerative abilities, and on this ground were also placed on mummies.
To find out more about the use of carnelian in Ancient Egyptian culture please see our relevant blog post: The Significance of Carnelian in Ancient Egyptian Culture.