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Museum piece #2 – EC895

EC895 front and rear.

Object number EC895 in the Swansea Egypt Centre collection is a flat Egyptian faience amulet, and is in the form of one of the Sons of Horus, the falcon-headed deity, Qebehsenuef. The Egypt Centre dates this style of amulet to the Late Period or later (747-332 BC).

Egyptian faience was a popular material for the production of amulets due to the ease with which it could be modelled, by hand or in a mould. The brilliant blue colour produced by the presence of the copper is one of the key defining features of Egyptian faience, and this colour was extremely important to the Egyptians in terms of symbolism and meaning. The original blue-green colour of the first Egyptian faience objects dating to the Predynastic period was seen as a magical colour, and was symbolic of life and rebirth.

The Four Sons of Horus, also known as the Four Children of Horus, Qebehsenuef, Duamutef, Hapi and Amset, were employed as protectors of the canopic jars containing the viscera of the mummified body during, or prior to, the Middle Kingdom. The jars each had the head of the deity that protected it, and at this time, they all had human heads. The practice of putting the viscera into the canopic jars became less common during the Third Intermediate Period, and instead, the viscera were wrapped in separate bandage packages and returned to the body cavity from whence they came. Each package would have an amuletic faience, glass or, more rarely, wax form of the relevant Son of Horus in it. Moving into the Late Period, mummy bead nets were used to cover the mummified body, and faience amuletic forms of the Sons of Horus were sewn onto these.

Four Sons of Horus sewn onto bead net of the 25th dynasty (D’Auria, Lacarova and Roehrig (1998) 174).

Amulets were also placed within the mummy wrappings, and the drawings of Petrie show the complexity of the array of amulets adorning the dead, with the Sons of Horus flanked by two Anubis amulets on line D.

Drawing showing the placement of amulets (inner and outer layer) on a mummy from Abydos (Petrie (1914), L1).

Further reading:

Andrews, C. (1994) Amulets of Ancient Egypt. Austin: University of Texas Press.

Friedman, F. D. (2000) Gifts of the Nile: Ancient Egyptian Faience. London:Thames and Hudson Ltd.

Ikram, S. and Dodson, A. (1998) The Mummy in Ancient Egypt: Equipping the Dead for Eternity. London:Thames and Hudson Ltd.


D’Auria, S., P. Lacovara and C. Roehrig (1998) Mummies and Magic: The Funerary Arts of Ancient Egypt. Boston:Museum of Fine Arts.

Petrie, W. M. F. (1914) Amulets. London: Constable and Company Ltd.


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