An Egyptian Obsidian Two Finger Amulet, Late Period, ca 664 - 332 BCE
EA2120Regular price $1,950 USD
This realistically rendered 'two-finger' amulet shows the index and middle fingers, with the nails and joint creased clearly indicated on the front. These amulets were placed on the mummy near the incision where the internal organs were removed before embalming. This suggests 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.
The use of amulets played a very large part in ancient Egyptian religion. They were generally made of various materials including stone and were believed to transfer magical properties to the wearer. The amulets from ancient Egypt can be divided by type. These different types of amulets had different purposes in protecting the deceased. They were usually placed on specific areas of the body to help achieve their intended purpose. 'Two-finger' amulets were mostly made of a dark hard stone such as basalt, obsidian (volcanic glass) such as this example, 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 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.
See: 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)
Dimensions: Height: 1 1/8 inches (2.8 cm)
Condition: A loss to the back surface and some minor chipping to the back edges but overall intact and in very good condition.
Provenance: Private collection of Egyptologist Geoffrey Metz, Sweden with Metz catalog number M238 in white pigment on the back.