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Isis-knot Amulet

Egyptian, Classical, Ancient Near Eastern Art

On View: Egyptian Orientation Gallery, 3rd Floor

In the New Kingdom, amulets represented magic in miniature form.

At that time, the Egyptians frequently wore amulets proclaiming their devotion to the cult of major deities such as Thoth, god of wisdom, or Hathor, an ancient goddess associated with music and love. These charms were intended to provide protection from specific dangers. Amulets of birth-gods, for example, were believed to protect women during pregnancy and childbirth and to watch over a newborn in the first years of life.

In the Eighteenth Dynasty, certain amulets began to be placed within mummy bandages to guarantee life after death. The most common included wedjat-eyes, signifying the restoration of wholeness; tyt-amulets, emblems of the goddess Isis, who restored her dead husband Osiris to life; and flowers, traditional symbols of fertility. Beads inscribed with a person’s name ensured that the memory of the individual would survive throughout eternity.

So-called heart scarabs, known since the Thirteenth Dynasty, are frequently found on New Kingdom mummies. The Egyptians believed that a deceased person’s fate would be determined by weighing his or her heart against the “Feather of Truth” on a divine balance. Texts carved on heart scarabs prevented the deceased’s heart from revealing anything negative during the weighing ritual.
  • Place Made: Egypt
  • DATES ca. 1539-1190 B.C.E.
    DYNASTY Dynasty 18 to Dynasty 19
    PERIOD New Kingdom
    DIMENSIONS 2 3/8 x 1 x 1/4 in. (6.1 x 2.5 x 0.6 cm)  (show scale)
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is on view in Egyptian Orientation Gallery, 3rd Floor
    CREDIT LINE Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund
    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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    CAPTION Isis-knot Amulet, ca. 1539-1190 B.C.E. Jasper, 2 3/8 x 1 x 1/4 in. (6.1 x 2.5 x 0.6 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 37.1272E. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 37.1272E_SL1.jpg)
    IMAGE overall, 37.1272E_SL1.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
    "CUR" at the beginning of an image file name means that the image was created by a curatorial staff member. These study images may be digital point-and-shoot photographs, when we don\'t yet have high-quality studio photography, or they may be scans of older negatives, slides, or photographic prints, providing historical documentation of the object.
    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Reddish-brown jasper amulet in the shape of a girdle tie (“tyt”). There is an eyelet on top of the upper loop and the space enclosed by the upper loop has been hollowed out. The other details of the amulet have been given by a combination of incised lines and slight modelling. The entire rear surface below the upper loop is decorated with an inscription. The top line of this inscription shows an erasure and insertion; its surface is scooped out and is duller than that of the rest of the piece. The original owner of the piece was named Men; the name which was added is Bapu. “The Osiris Bapu, justified. To be spoken by Men: (thy) blood (to thee) O Isis! (thy ) potency (to thee) O! Isis (thy) magic to thee O! Isis. A charm for the protection of this great one, beware lest (?) wrong may be done him. Meribenakht?” (the last name may be that of the dedicator). Condition: Small nicks; otherwise good.
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