Faience amulet in the shape of an ankh

Said to be from Gebel Barkal, Egypt
25th Dynasty to Late Period, about 700-500 BC

'Life, power and stability for millions of years'

This amulet was acquired by Lord Kitchener in the Sudan. It probably originated in a temple, since amulets found in burials are usually smaller. An example from Meroe is associated with objects used for the New Year festival. It is possible that large ankh amulets like this one may also have been used for the festival.

This amulet expresses more than just the value of the ankh hieroglyph (meaning 'life'). Combined with the ankh are:

The was-sceptre, the hieroglyph for 'power', or 'dominion'
The djed pillar, the hieroglyph for 'stability'
The heh, a man with upraised arms, the hieroglyph for 'millions' (holding two 'year' hieroglyphs)

The whole object taken together represents a wish, probably for the king, of 'life, power and stability for millions of years', a very common type of Egyptian royal expression.

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More information


F.D. Friedman (ed.), Gifts of the Nile: ancient Egy (London, Thames and Hudson, 1998)

S. Quirke and A.J. Spencer, The British Museum book of anc (London, The British Museum Press, 1992)


Length: 23.500 cm

Museum number

EA 54412



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