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Egyptian Faience Heart Amulet Necklace 500BC $249.99

For Customers outside of USA

Gorgeous Turquoise Blue Ancient Egyptian Faience Heart (with Hieroglyphics) Amulet and Mummybead Necklace.

CLASSIFICATION: Faience Composition Amulet and Faience Composition Bead Necklace.

ATTRIBUTION: Ancient Egypt, 27th Dynasty, Xerxes I (?), 486-466 B.C.

SIZE: 28mm in length, 17mm in width , 7mm thickness; 75cm faience "mummybead" necklace (30 inches).

SIZE: 2.86 grams (amulet only).

CONDITION: Excellent, faience glaze 75% intact, exceptionally sharp detail preserved. Professionally conserved.

DETAIL: A 2,500 year gorgeous faience heart amulet with a depiction of a "Ba Bird" and an abbreviated hieroglyphic prayer. The ancient Egyptian beliefs regarding the human heart and its role in the afterlife were complex. To begin with, ancient Egyptians believed that the seat of the soul and the mind was the heart, not the brain. The heart was inviolate. Even after death during the embalming and mummification process, the heart was not to be touched. Virtually all other internal organs were removed from the body, "preserved", and then placed in canopic jars for burial with the mummy. The brain was considered merely to be appendage, garbage if you will. It was removed and discarded. But the heart; the heart was the only internal organ to be preserved in place - because a mummy with a damaged or missing heart was truly dead, and would never participate in an afterlife. If it was accidentally removed during mummification, it would be returned to the body and stitched into place.

A heart amulet was intended to insure that one's heart would remain with them in the afterlife. According to the "Book of the Dead", after death, the deceased's heart was to be judged in order to gain entrance into the realm of Osiris ("heaven", if you will). The heart was weighed on a scale opposite the feather ordinarily worn as a headdress/crown by the Goddess Ma'at. Ma'at seemed to be more of a concept than an actual goddess. Her name, literally, meant 'truth' in Egyptian. She was truth, order, balance and justice personified. She was harmony, she was what was right, she was what things should be. It was thought that if Ma'at didn't exist, the universe would become chaos. In any event, if the heart was excessively "heavy" due to the sins of the deceased during lifetime, the heart was consumed by a fearful monster (Ammut - part hippo, part crocodile, part lion), and the life of the deceased was at an end. If the heart was judged favorably, then the deceased enjoyed a continuation of his or her previous life, but even in greater comfort. The heart was not only the seat of intellect, it was the originator of all feelings and actions, and the storehouse of memory. Ab (the heart) was the source of good and evil within a person, the moral awareness and center of thought. This is why it was the heart which was weighed in the balance in the underworld to ascertain whether its owner was worthy to enter the Egyptian paradise.

The heart was known as "Ab" to the Egyptians, and was often manifested as a "Ba Bird", depicted flying above the mortal remains of the deceased. The heart, believed to be the seat of one's intellect, was imagined to be a vessel for one's mind (and "soul), and so was generally depicted as a vessel. You can see clearly that this amulet indeed is in the form of a vessel - a heart-shaped vessel with handles on either side. There is also a glyph of a bird, one would guess alluding to "Ba", the heart, or "Ba Bird". By the Late Period the heart amulet was one of the most common funerary amulets. It was often worn during life as well. Many of the various forms of heart amulets (oftentimes scaraboid in form) would contain an abbreviated prayer alluding to Chapter 30b of the Book of the Dead. The prayer (of abbreviation thereof) most amulets were inscribed with pertained to a demand that the heart not testify against the deceased during the trial wherein the heart was adjudged against the feather of Ma'at.

Ab however did not after death play a merely passive role, residing in the mummy's chest cavity. The heart could leave the body at will, and live with the gods after death. Ba was often depicted as a human-headed bird, flitting in and out of the tomb chamber during the day through the tomb shaft, bringing to the deceased air and food (left as offerings outside the tomb). During the night the Ba was believed to travel with the Sun God Ra on his Solar Barque in his journey around the dark side (underworld). A counterpart to Ba was Ka, the double that lingered on in the tomb inhabiting the body or even statues of the deceased. But Ka was also independent of man and could move, eat and drink at will. One of the symbols on this amulet is the hieroglyph for Ka. Besides Ba and Ka, there was also "Akh", which traveled throughout the Underworld and to the entrance of the Afterlife. "Khat" was the physical form, the body that could decay after death, the mortal, outward part of the human that could only be preserved by mummification. And there was also the Khaibit (shadow), which might be with the Ba on the barque, or in the tomb eating some offerings. It was a complex belief system.

As described, this particular amulet has a number of hieroglyphs, including what seems likely to be a "Ba Bird", as well as the symbol for "Ka", the living entity which remained in the tomb or in statutes of the deceased. There are several other hieroglyphs as well, one the symbol for "S", likely an abbreviation of the heart prayer which is found inscribed on the majority of heart amulets. The amulet is very well preserved, and is a gorgeous turquoise blue color. A significant portion of the original faience glaze remains intact. The amulet is nicely detailed, and has survived almost twenty-five centuries of burial without chips, breaks, or cracks. The amulet is mounted onto a necklace of sequentially-strung, blue-green tubular "mummybeads" also constructed of faience. The tubular faience beads are between 15 and 30 millimeters (3/4 - 1 1/4 inches) in length, and about 3 millimeters (1/8th inch) inch in diameter. The disk-shaped beads used as accent separators are considerably older, likely origin before 1,000 B.C. The necklace is 75cm (30 inches) in length; large enough to fit over anyone's head, and is designed to suspend the amulet mid-chest. It is quite an impressive combination, and can be worn with elegance and distinction.

CONSTRUCTION: Faience amulets were produced in ancient Egypt by crushing quartz mixed with a coloring agent, typically copper ore, which was then made into a paste. The paste was then placed in an open-backed mold, and then fired. The quartz would fuse, and the copper would give the resulting product a color with blue and/or green hues, which was favored by the ancient Egyptians as the color of the Nile River. The quartz would "migrate" to the surface of the object, giving it a glassy finish. Given the passage of twenty-five centuries, it is not uncommon for such amulets to have entirely lost their glassy faience glaze. However a substantial percentage of such amulets will possess some remnants of the original faience glaze, beneath which will be seen the natural sandstone colored faience substrate. A few very fortunate specimens (a very small percentage) will even retain most of the original glaze. Collectors of such amulets look for three principal attributes. Those are in order of significance, a specimen of undiminished integrity (no cracks, chips, or substantial deterioration). Second, good detail in high relief and good definition. Third, the amount of faience glaze remaining intact. Also of significance to many collectors is the size of the specimen.

Amulets such as these, even though assuredly ancient, were nonetheless "mass produced" for the populace at large. It is worth noting that the exceptional condition of an artifact often not only takes into account the state of preservation, but oftentimes can also be due to the superior workmanship and artistic qualities of the mold which produced this amulet. The detail and technique present in the finished amulet is a reflection of a skilled artisan of that distant past who left a living testament to his craftsmanship, which still speaks of his pride and abilities almost twenty-five centuries later. Conversely, a poorly skilled artisan might produce an amulet which even today may easily be recognized as an inferior product, often not much more than a crudely shaped lump of material, poorly featured with coarse detail.

HISTORY: One of the greatest civilizations of recorded history was ancient Egypt. For a mere hundred dollars or thereabouts, you can possess a small part of that great civilization in the form of a 2,500 year old amulet. These magical talismans are amongst the most sought after and highly collectible artifacts from ancient Egypt. Religion was very important to the ancient Egyptians, and they worshipped many gods. These gods and goddesses often represented the natural world, such as the sky, earth, sun, or wind. The gods took the form of animals or animal/human figures. The ancient Egyptians wore amulets, small representations of these gods, as magical charms to ward off danger. They believed that these amulets, or talismans, would not only protect them in life, but in death as well, and would endow the individual wearing them with magical powers and capabilities.

While religious beliefs in ancient Egypt played a very important role in life, they played an even larger role in death. The ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead prescribed 104 different types of amulets be buried with the mummy in order to protect the deceased on his or her journey into the afterlife. Typically pinned to or wrapped within their burial shroud, it was not uncommon to find even thousands of amulets in the possession of the mummified remains of more prominent members of that ancient civilization. Typically when mummifying the deceased, there could be as many as 80 layers of linen, and it was not unusual to place at least one amulet representation of each of the more significant deities within each layer.

Amulets were made in many sizes and of many materials, including terracotta, wood, stone, bronze, silver, gold, occasionally precious gemstones, but most often of "faience". Faience was the forerunner of modern glass, and was manufactured by the Egyptians as far back as 4000 B.C. Faience is composed of ground quartz and sand together with a coloring agent. Although faience was made in many different colors, most often the coloring agent used was copper ore, which would impart a turquoise blue or turquoise green color. Made into a paste, the mixture of silica and coloring agent(s) it was pressed into molds, and then fired in an oven. When baked, the quartz would migrate as a glaze to the surface of the amulet within the mold. When the mold was opened, the amulet would have a smooth, glassy surface. If colored with copper ore, the resulting product would typically be a shade between deep cobalt blue and pale emerald or jade green. The manufacture of amulets and the application of the magic spells for the benefit of the deceased, were almost always overseen by Egyptian priests.

The actual mummification process took approximately seventy days. The body of the deceased was ritually cleansed and purified to begin the journey into the afterlife. The next stop involved removing the inner organs, such as the liver, intestines, lungs, and stomach. In order to dry out the organs and prevent decay they were placed in natron, a type of salt used for drying. The organs were wrapped in linen strips and placed in canopic jars. The body cavity was then stuffed with additional natron. The brain was liquified removed through the sinus cavity and discarded. The brain cavity was filled with resin so as to prevent it from collapsing during the drying or "curing" process of the mummy. It's interesting to note that the embalmers never intentionally removed the heart of the deceased. Alone among the internal organs removed from the corpse during mummification, the heart was left in place within the body cavity. Should it be accidentally removed, it was returned and stitched into place.

Amulets from ancient Egypt were buried typically for between 2,500 and 3,000 years before being unearthed inside of tombs within the last century or two. Amulets typically are between one-half and two inches in size. Amulets were extremely important to the ancient Egyptians, a focal point of both their life and their belief in the hereafter. Amulets were oftentimes worn about the neck by the ancient Egyptians, typically on a beaded necklace. The beads were most often faience beads, in colors ranging from tan to pale jade green to cobalt blue. Though the material used to string the necklaces disappeared in the eons passed while buried within the tombs of Egypt, the beads themselves survived. Oftentimes these necklaces are restrung on modern filaments, and then offered as a matching set with an amulet which can be worn or displayed with pride.

SHIPPING: These antiquities come from a number of collections which by and large originated here in Eastern Europe. As well, additional specimens are occasionally acquired from other institutions and dealers, principally in Eastern Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean. All of these artifacts are now in the United States and are available for immediate delivery via U.S. Mail. All purchases are backed by an unlimited guarantee of satisfaction and authenticity. If for any reason you are not entirely satisfied with your purchase, you may return it for a complete and immediate refund of your entire purchase price. A certificate of authenticity (COA) is available upon request.

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