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.
The term ‘wedjat’ translates as “sound one” and refers specifically to the Eye of Horus, which was plucked out by the god, Seth, as the two of them battled. The eye was then restored and healed by the god, Thoth. The right eye of Horus was thought to represent the good eye, whilst the left was the injured eye, and so Wedjat amulets were often considered to represent the right eye of Horus.