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Egyptian amulets were worn by both the living and the dead. Some protected the wearer against specific dangers and others endowed him or her with special characteristics, such as strength or fierceness. They were often in the shape of animals, plants, sacred objects, or hieroglyphic symbols. The combination of shape, colour and material were important to the effectiveness of an amulet.
Papyri show that amulets were used in medicine, often in conjunction with poultices (a medicated dressing, often applied hot) or other preparations, and the recitation of spells. Sometimes, the papyri on which the spells were written could also act as amulets, and were folded up and worn by the owner.
One of the most widely worn protective amulets was the wedjat eye: the restored eye of Horus. It was worn by the living, and often appeared on rings and as an element of necklaces. It was also placed on the body of the deceased during the mummification process to protect the incision through which the internal organs were removed. Several of the spells in the Book of the Dead were intended to be spoken over specific amulets, which were then placed in particular places on the body of the deceased. The scarab was an important funerary amulet, associated with rebirth, and the heart scarab amulet prevented the heart from speaking out against the deceased.