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Ancient Egyptian symbols

The dead and living gained supernatural power and/or protected themselves by using amulets. Amulets gained potency via shape, color, material, rituals, incantations and even position on the body; parts of the Book of the Dead and Ritual of Embalming describe these details. Amulets were placed within mummy wrappings during mummification, on top of the mummy afterward and even atop coffins. Amulets worn in life may have been used in death as well.

The most common amulets encountered in burials are the tit, djed pillar, papyrus column and heart amulets. These were believed to have intrinsically protective properties, and also were capable of endowing the powers of specific deities.

Symbol

Association

Description

Ankh

Eternal life

Djed pillar

Protection

Symbolized Osiris' backbone and endowed the ability to stand upright. It was complemented by a red jasper girdle-tie amulet symbolizing Isis. Placed on the throat, this amulet offered protection from Isis.

Scarab amulet

Rebirth

It propelled a ball of dung from which its progeny hatched -- ancient Egyptians related this to the motion of the sun across the sky and rebirth. This image was so powerful that the scarab amulet was one of the most crucial, as it ensured the deceased not only retained their heart in the afterlife but protected it as the deceased faced magical challenges.

Wadj amulet

Resurrection

A papyrus column oft of green stone or blue-green faience.

Curved beard

Divinity

Falcon/vulture

Protection

Pyramid

Ra worship