Amulet of Imsety, Dyn. 25

Amulet of Imsety, Dyn. 25
Period:Egypt, 3rd Intermediate Period, Dynasty 25 and Contemporaries
Dating:747 BC–656 BC
Origin:Egypt, Upper Egypt, Thebes
Material:Faience (all types)
Physical:6.9cm. (2.7 in.) - 15 g. (.5 oz.)

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Links to others from Dynasty 25 and Contemporaries

Amulet of Duamutef, Dyn. 25
Bronze Imhotep seated, Dyn. 25 (?)
Bronze Nefertem pendant amulet, Dyn. 25
Bronze of a queen nursing, Dyn. 25
Bronze of King Shabaka ? as Osiris, Dyn. 25
Bronze of Ptah, Memphis, Dyn. 25
Bronze ritual pendant of Osiris, Dyn. 25
Bronze ritual pendant of Osiris, Dyn. 25
Bronze statuette of Ptah, Dyn. 25
Faience amulet of Qebhsenuef, Dyn. 25
Five Udjat eyes amulet, Dyn. 25
Horus-the-Child as Amun, 776-656 BC
Horus-the-Child, Dyn. 25, 776-656 BC
Mentuemhet, prince of Thebes, Dyn. 25
Osiris-Neper, god of agriculture, Dyn. 25
Queen Aqaluqa as Isis nursing, Dyn. 25
Queen as Goddess Neith seated, Dyn. 25106

Queen as Isis nursing, Dyn. 25
Scarab of Piankhi, Dyn. 25
Twenty-eight udjat eyes amulet, Dyn. 25
Udjat eye amulet-pendant, Dyn. 25
Udjat eye amulet-pendant, Dyn. 25

Links to others of type Amulet

Amulet of Duamutef, Dyn. 25
Amulet of god Thoth as a Baboon, Dyn. 18
Amulet of Pataikos, Dyn. 26
Amulet of Ptah-Sokar, Dyn. 20-21
Amulet of Shu, Dyn. 26
Amulet-pendant of Sakhmet, Dyn. 22
Blue glass amulet, Palestine, c. 450 AD
Bronze Nefertem pendant amulet, Dyn. 25
Djed pillar, amulet of powers, Dyn. 26
Faience amulet of Anubis, 525-334 BC
Faience amulet of Qebhsenuef, Dyn. 25
Gilded ib, heart amulet, Dyn.18
Gilded mkrt, snake amulet, Dyn. 18
Gilded ‘tit’ (girdle of Isis) amulet, Dyn. 18
Glass jug amulet, Palestine, c. 450 AD
Glass jug amulet, Palestine, c. 450 AD
Glass jug amulet, Palestine, c. 450 AD
Glass jug amulet, Palestine, c. 450 AD
Glass jug amulet, Palestine, c. 450 AD
Glass jug amulet, Palestine, c. 450 AD
Horus-the-child, Meroe, 590-300 BC
Large amulet of Pataikos, Dyn. 20
Large amulet of Pataikos, Dyn. 20-21
Palm leaf amulet, Dyn. 18-19
Palm leaf amulet, Dyn. 18-19
Sakhmet amulet pendant, Dyn. 18
Shells amulet-pendant, c. 4500 BC
Sky Goddess Nut as a sow, 1085-760 BC
Two-fingers mummy amulet, Dyn. 26
Upper Egypt crown amulet, Dyn. 26
  Blue cobalt enamel amulet of protection of Imsety, the human form Son of Horus, guardian of the liver, holding a long folded cloth. Dynasty 25.

“During the Third Intermediate Period, mummification practices changed and the packages containing the embalmed internal organs were no longer placed in Canopic Jars but were returned to the body cavity, each with an amuletic figure of the relevant deity attached” (Andrews 1994:45-46).

Amulets are objects generally kept on the person that are believed to confer some benefit to the wearer. While turn of the century archeologist Flinders Petrie (1914) enraged that “the belief in the magic effect of inanimate objects on the course of events is one of the lower stages of the human mind in seeking for principles of natural action. . .”, he had to concede that the use of amulets, talismans, and charms is very ingrained in many cultures to the present day. Many of us use lucky pens and wear religious medals without believing literally in their powers to affect our lives. But we still use them. They help us muster the confidence we need in times of self doubt. They empower us to dare, to believe in ourselves, to heal ourselves. Egyptians may have felt the same way. They used amulets on themselves and on their dead. Egyptians also seem to have had a passion for jewelry, and amulets were a good excuse to wear more jewelry.

Egyptians created an astonishing variety of amulets. The Dendera Amulets List, engraved on the thickness of a temple doorway, shows 104 different amulets for funerary use. The MacGregor Papyrus shows and names each one (Andrews 1994:7). Petrie described some 270 kinds of amulets in his 1914 monograph on the subject, and yet it was published before the excavation of many sites rich in amulets! He devised a classification system which, for all its flaws, is useful and still stands as no worse than any devised since to put order in that which defies classification: “The various ascertained meanings may be completely put in order under five great classes… (I) the amulets of Similars which are for influencing similar parts, or functions, or occurrences, for the wearer; (II) the amulets of Powers, for conferring powers and capacities, especially upon the dead; (III) the amulets of Property, which are entirely derived from the funeral offerings, and are thus peculiar to Egypt; (IV) the amulets for Protection, such as charms and curative amulets; (V) the figures of Gods, connected with the worship of the gods and their functions… Our classes then are here called amulets of
Similars, or Homopoeic.
Powers or Dynatic.
Property or Ktematic.
Protection or Phylactic.
Gods or Theophoric.”
(Petrie 1914:6 #17)

The evolution of amulets follows a fairly logical path. The first amulets were natural objects such as shells, and symbolically charged body parts of animals, such as claws from birds of prey. Then, still in predynastic times, we find figurines of significant animals, such as the hippopotamus, falcon, and jackal. Through the Old Kingdom, there was a development of animal forms with increasing levels of sophistication, and by the middle of the Old Kingdom we find the abstract symbolic subjects (such as the Ankh (sign meaning “life”), the Udjat eye of Horus, the Djed pillar, and the scarab) which remain some of the most emblematic symbols of Egyptian culture. During the First Intermediate Period we find amulets representing human body parts (ear, tongue, hand, arm, phallus, leg, heart...). The Middle Kingdom expanded the whole range of objects and gave the scarab its final form. But despite this considerable repertoire, amulets representing major gods remained rare until the end of the New Kingdom, at which time they suddenly flourished, and became as a group the most prevalent type until the end of Dynastic history. (Andrews 1994)

Dynasty 25
The kings of Dynasty 25 (747-656 BC) were not from Egypt, but from the land of Kush, south of Egypt (in today’s northern Sudan). Previously invaded, colonized, exploited, and forcefully ‘Egyptianized’ most recently during the New Kingdom, the Kushites had unexpectedly retained their Egyptianized ways in the five hundred years since the Egyptian state had pulled out of Kush. Their leader Piankhy (Piyi) still worshipped Egyptian gods, wrote official texts in classical hieroglyphs, and intended to be buried under a pyramid. Indeed, at a time when Lower Egypt was populated by a majority of ethnic Lybians who did not necessarily revere the Egyptian cultural heritage as their own, and when the strong pharaohs of the past had been replaced by a “federation of semi-autonomous rulers” (Shaw 2000:345), Piankhy felt more genuinely Egyptian than any king of Egypt. In fact, Kushite kings “did not see themselves as foreigners, although they had different ethnic, cultural and linguistic roots. In their view and faith, Kush and Egypt were the two halves of the ancient kingdom of Amun, which were once united in a distant mythical past” (Institut du Monde Arabe, Paris 1997:166, 170).

And so, when King Tefnakht of Sais in the Delta showed expansionist ambitions, Piankhy’s religious fervor led him to descend upon Egypt with his powerful army in a crusade to unite the nation under an ‘ideologically Egyptian’ king—himself. In southern Egypt, he diplomatically established his influence by convincing the Thebans to adopt his sister Amenirdis as the Divine Adoratrice of Amun—a position with considerable political power. In northern Egypt, his military supremacy brought compliance. But instead of annihilating the (mostly Lybian) kings, princes and chieftains of the Delta, he was satisfied with receiving their pledge of allegiance.

By the strength of their conviction and their deft and consistent application of symbolically charged gestures, Kushite kings awoke in their people a sense of national identity, gave a new impetus and a clear purpose to a land slowly drifting away into irrelevance. Although the idea of drawing strength from Egypt’s great past predates their intervention—“it had its origin in the later Lybian period, having begun during the first half of the eight century BC” (Shaw 2000:356)—the Kushites lent an energy, and a dedication to the cause that is almost palpable. Dynasty 25 high art blends the physical strength of Kushite body types with the classical model of Old Kingdom portraiture, adding a few details that demonstrate that Dynasty 25 Egypt was not just a relic of the past, but a nation moving forward, building confidently and proudly on its glorious heritage.

Although in artistic and cultural matters, the Kushite kings insisted on a return to Old Kingdom order, in politics they were unwilling to commit the resources necessary to return to an absolute centralized royal authority. But perpetuating the decentralized model of the previous hundred years meant they had to intervene sporadically to curtail the ambitions of their vassals. More importantly, the relative independence of local rulers in the delta eventually drew them to meddle in rebellions against the Assyrian dominance of Palestine. Provoking the Assyrian empire at the height of its power proved fatal to the Kushite Dynasty. In 667 BC, Assyria invaded Egypt and the Kushites pulled back to the land of Kush. Within three years, all hope was lost for Dynasty 25.

Bibliography (for this item)

Andrews, Carol
1994 Amulets of Ancient Egypt. University of Texas Press, Austin, TX. (
45- 46)

Petrie, W.M. Flinders
1914 Amulets. Constable & Company, London, UK.

Bibliography (on Amulet)

Andrews, Carol
1994 Amulets of Ancient Egypt. University of Texas Press, Texas.

Petrie, W.M. Flinders
1914 Amulets. Constable & Company, London, UK.

Bibliography (on Dynasty 25)

Institut du monde Arabe, Paris, , and Kunsthalle der Hypo-Kulturstiftung, Munich
1997 SOUDAN. Royaumes sur le Nil (Exhibition in Munich, Paris, Amsterdam, Toulouse, Mannheim.). Flammarion, Paris.

Shaw, Ian
2000 The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt. Oxford University Press, Oxford, United Kingdom.

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