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.
Thoeris (also known as Taweret) was an Egyptian deity who attended women in childbirth, and became a patron for pregnant women accordingly. She is often shown standing as a heavily pregnant hippopotamus with low hanging stomach. She was a household deity with no temple dedicated to her, but some form of shrine was in almost every house. Many women carried an amulet like this to assist them with labour and child rearing, but later, throughout the Amarna period, she gained importance as a funerary deity. This was because her powers were considered to be regenerative as well as protective. The longstanding importance of Thoeris/Taweret in daily life is evident from her continued presence on amulets throughout the Amarna period, and even after the establishment of Akhenaten’s henotheistic religion.
To find out more about Ancient Egyptian amulets please see our relevant blog post: Egyptian Amulets and their Meanings: Ancient Egyptian Gods.