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Obsidian amulet in the shape of two fingers

 

Length: 8.520 cm
Width: 2.170 cm
Thickness: 0.950 cm

Gift of the Egypt Exploration Society

EA 59500

Ancient Egypt and Sudan

    Obsidian amulet in the shape of two fingers

    From Egypt
    Late Period, after 600 BC

    The 'two-finger' amulet shows the index and middle fingers, with the nails and joints clearly indicated. They were placed on the mummy near the incision by which the internal organs were removed before embalming. This may suggest that the amulet was intended to reaffirm the embalming process, the fingers representing those of Anubis, the god of embalming. However, the amulet could also have been intended to 'hold' the incision sealed, to prevent malign forces from entering the body, like the plaques sometimes placed over the wound.

    'Two-finger' amulets were mostly made of a dark hard stone such as basalt, obsidian (volcanic glass) or steatite. Black was associated with the Underworld. Black stones were often used to make statues of Osiris and for sarcophagi and other objects which were to be placed inside tombs. The hardness of the stones was symbolic of endurance. Amulets were made of such materials to ensure that their magical powers lasted for all eternity. This is consistent with both interpretations of the function of the 'two-finger' amulet, as it was important that the body remained intact for all eternity, so that the deceased could enjoy the Afterlife.

    Of the different types of amulet placed on the mummy, the 'two-finger' amulet was a late arrival, first evident only after around 600 BC.

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

    G. Pinch, Magic in Ancient Egypt (London, The British Museum Press, 1994)

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