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Magic in Miniature: Ancient Egyptian Scarabs, Seals & Amulets

DATES November 07, 1986 through June 29, 1987
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  • November 7, 1986 Magic in Miniature: Ancient Egyptian Scarabs, Seals,and Amulets, a display of 175 of the finest examples of magical charms from The Brooklyn Museum’s renowned Egyptian collection, recently opened and will remain on view through June 29, 1987. The works, ranging in date from the Archaic Period to the Roman Period (2900 B.C.-3rd Century A.D.), are representative of the several thousand in the holdings of the Department of Egyptian, Classical and Ancient Middle Eastern Art, and include examples in stone, gold and silver, faience, ivory, glass and shell. The presentation is installed on the third floor of the Museum.

    The ancient Egyptians believed that their world was inhabited by a host of malevolent forces, some real and some imaginary. To protect themselves from these dangers, they developed an array of charms that would ward off evil directly or endow the wearer with special powers to overcome attack.

    The most common Egyptian charm was the amulet. These were worn around the neck and were in the shape of gods, animals, religious symbols and parts of the body. Another familiar magical device was the scarab. Ancient Egyptians saw the beetle as a symbol of solar rebirth. By adorning themselves with scarabs they expressed the hope that they would be resurrected and enjoy eternal life in the hereafter. Cylindrical seals inscribed with magical spells are the oldest of the ancient Egyptians’ magical charms and also served a spiritual purpose.

    The exhibition was organized by Diana Craig Patch, Research Associate in the Museum’s Department of Egyptian, Classical and Ancient Middle Eastern Art.

    Brooklyn Museum Archives. Records of the Department of Public Information. Press releases, 1971 - 1988. 1986, 109.
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