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Hematite headrest amulet


Length: 2.470 cm
Height: 1.250 cm
Width: 1.000 cm

EA 8307

Ancient Egypt and Sudan

    Hematite headrest amulet

    From Egypt
    Late Period, after 600 BC

    To ensure that you keep your head

    Headrests of stone, wood or ivory were an essential part of bedroom furniture, and were included in tombs to be used in the Afterlife. They often supported the head of the deceased within the coffin, such as. for example, the mummy of Ankhef. Headrest amulets could act as a substitute for the real thing in burials, and they became particularly widespread in the late Third Intermediate Period (about 1070-661 BC) and Late Period (661-332 BC).

    According to Chapter 166 of the Book of the Dead, the headrest amulet had two roles. It raised up the head of the deceased in regeneration: At the beginning of the spell the deceased is instructed to 'raise yourself, so that you may be triumphant over what was done against you'. It also prevented the head being removed: the spell closes with the assurance that 'Your head shall not be taken from you afterwards, your head shall not be taken from you for ever'.

    Headrest amulets were made of hematite or a dark stone, reflecting their association with the Afterlife, and continual protection of the deceased.

    C.A.R. Andrews, Amulets of Ancient Egypt (London, The British Museum Press, 1994)


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