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Ancient Egypt Isis Mourns Mother Goddess Amulet 400 BC $249.99 - SOLD


Gorgeous Turquoise Blue Ancient Egyptian Isis in Mourning Amulet and Mummybead Necklace.

CLASSIFICATION: Faience Composition Amulet and Faience Composition Bead Necklace.

ATTRIBUTION: Ancient Egypt, 29th Dynasty, Hakoris(?) 393-380 B.C.

SIZE: 39mm in length, 21mm in height , 9mm thickness; 75cm faience "mummybead" necklace (30 inches).

WEIGHT: 6.42 grams (amulet only).

CONDITION: Excellent, faience 95% intact, exceptionally sharp detail preserved. Professionally conserved.

DETAIL: A very distinctive, large 2,500 year old gorgeous turquoise colored faience/composition amulet of the ancient Egyptian Mother Goddess, Isis. Isis is depicted wearing a vulture headdress as well as a menat (an elaborate, which is a heavy beaded collar/necklace of religious significance ordinarily worn by royalty), a royal names headcloth, and a uraeus (a protective cobra worn by deities and the pharaoh). Isis is kneeling, hands raised in supplication, as she bemoans the loss of her husband, Osiris. Such a depiction of Isis was quite common, as the legend of Osiris and Isis was without a doubt the most popular of folklore in ancient Egypt. This manifestation in is conjunction with Isis' role as she pleads with Ra to help her bring life back to her beloved Osiris after he had been dismembered and scattered throughout Egypt (see "history" below). The amulet is fairly large (as such amulets go), is a "flat back" plaque style amulet - rather uncommon and certainly very distinctive. There are very few amulets which were constructed in the flat back style. The amulet possesses sharply molded features, especially with respect to the detailed folds of the garment Isis wears, her royal headcloth, and well rendered facial features. The detail is very minute with much better resolution than one would normally anticipate in such an ancient amulet. The overall impression is quite elegant.

This is a well-preserved amulet, certainly not the normal specimen, which often has been reduced to a crudely featured lump by the passage of millennia. The amulet has survived almost 2,400 years of burial without chips, breaks, or cracks; it is in very good condition. 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 a 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 over 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 open back 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 removed from the mold, 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.

From the beginning of Egypt's history to the end, Isis was the greatest goddess of Egypt. She was the beneficial goddess and mother whose love encompassed every living creature. Isis was also the purest example of the loving wife and mother and it was in this capacity that the Egyptian people loved her the most. Her worship spread well beyond the borders of Egypt, as far away as England. The works of the classical writers identified her with Persephone, Tethys, Athene, etc., just as Osiris was associated with Hades, Dionysos and other foreign gods. In the Hellenistic time Isis was the protectress of sailors. And the early Christians bestowed many of her attributes to the Virgin Mary. The images of Isis suckling the Horus child undoubtedly inspired the multitude of icons showing the Madonna and Child.

In Egyptian mythology Isis was the equivalent of the universal mother-god found in virtually all civilizations, and was worshipped as the mother of Ra. Isis was the sister of Osiris (who was also her husband), Nepthys and Seth, the daughter of Nut and Geb and the mother of Horus the Child. She was possessed of great skill and power in the working of magic, of which many examples are given within Egyptian mythology. According to legend, Isis, with a mere incantation supplied by Thoth, was able to bring back to life Horus after he had been stung to death by a scorpion. The symbol of Isis in the heavens was the star Soped (Sirius). This star disappears behind the sun for seventy days, then reappears to announce the annual Nile flood. Isis was thus identified with the waters of the Inundation that bring dry, dead land back to life. As such Isis was regarded as the companion of Osiris, whose soul dwelt in the star Sah (Orion). She and Osiris had a dual function as fertility gods: she over saw love and union, he was the god of growth. They ruled Egypt as husband and wife; he taught his subjects the rule of law and respect for the gods; she taught them marriage, household management and medicine.

Isis is usually depicted as a woman wearing a vulture head-dress and the solar disk between a pair of horns, or oftentimes as throne atop her head (Isis' name in Egyptian is Ast which refers to the throne of the king, which she personifies). Occasionally Isis is depicted wearing the double-crowns of the North and the South with the feather of Ma'at, or a pair of ram's horns. Isis as a woman (not a goddess) is portrayed with the ordinary head-dress of a woman, but with the uraeus over her forehead; and she is so depicted her in this portrayal. Isis was also able to take the form of a kite (a falcon-like bird of prey), and is often depicted as a kite. As a winged goddess she may have represented the wind. In the Osiris legend there are references to Isis wailing and moaning like the wind, and as a kite she was continually traveling up and down the land in search of her lost husband. It is noteworthy that she is one of only a few deities found with wings in ancient Egyptian mythology. The scorpion was also a sacred creature to Isis, who was thought to have been protected by scorpions while Horus was young. The goose was the sacred animal of Geb, her father, and Isis was sometimes described as 'the egg of the goose'. A temple is dedicated to her on the Island of Philae, near the first cataract.

According to legend (particularly the pyramid texts and the book of the dead), Osiris was killed by his brother jealous brother Seth, who shut his body in a chest and threw it into the Nile. The chest was swept out to sea, and was washed upon on the shore of Byblos (Phoenicia), where it became became entangled into the roots of a tree, and eventually engulfed by the tree. The King Byblos turned the tree into a pillar in his palace. Isis had been searching for her husband's body so that he could be properly buried and could rest in peace in the Underworld. She discovered the trunk within the tree/pillar, and retrieved the trunk and the body. Upon returning to Egypt, she hid the trunk and body so as to attend to her son, Horus. But in her absence Seth stumbled upon the finely decorated box. He was blinded with rage at the sight of his brother. He ripped Osiris into fourteen pieces and scattered them throughout Egypt.

Isis and her sister, Nephthys, in a great saga, eventually found the pieces and made wax models of them to give to priests to be worshipped in temples throughout Egypt. When they found all of his pieces, they were so sad they wailed loudly enough for Ra, the father god, to have pity on them. This is the event portrayed by this amulet here. With the help of Anubis (who became the god of embalming) and Thoth, sent by Ra, Isis then embalmed her husband's body by binding together all of the pieces in linen, thus reassembling the body. Isis takes the shape of one of Egypt's swiftest birds, a kite. Flapping and darting above his dead body she wails in mourning. She restores life to Osiris by flapping her wings and filling his mouth and nose with air. She then impregnated herself upon Osiris, and her son Horus was thus conceived. Osiris was not allowed to stay in the land of the living, and was sent to the underworld to serve as king, and to judge the souls of the dead. The oldest religious texts of ancient Egypt thus refer to Osiris as the great god of the dead. And Isis gained the role of a goddess of the dead and of funeral rituals, and was an essential depiction on any sarcophagus of substance.

Eventually Horus grows to manhood. Osiris appears to Horus in the land of the living. He convinces Horus to avenge the wrongs that have been committed by Seth. Horus tracks down Seth and a huge battle begins. Victory is elusive and the battle turns first to one side, then to the other. Some versions of the myth give Horus ultimate victory, and Horus becomes the first ruler of a united Egypt. But other myths state this battle of good verses evil still rages, but that some day, Horus will be victorious and on that day, Osiris will return to rule the world. The story of Isis and Osiris, a love story, a story of triumph over death, and the victory of good and right over brute force, became the most popular of Egyptian myths.

Isis was a vital link between the gods and mankind. The pharaoh was her son, as the living Horus. In the Pyramid Texts the pharaoh suckles at Isis' divine breasts. There are numerous statues and imagery of Isis holding the young Horus in her lap. Often the images of the queen-mother and current pharaoh were styled in the same way. Isis protected Horus during his childhood from his uncle Seth who wished to murder him. In the Book of the Dead, Isis is regarded as the giver of life and food to the dead. She may also be one of the judges of the dead. Another of her roles was to protect Imsety, one of the four sons of Horus, as he guarded over the liver of the deceased.

Isis was a great enchantress, the goddess of magic. Together with Thoth, she taught mankind the secrets of medicine. She was the embalmer and guardian of Osiris. She is often depicted on the foot of coffins with long wings spread to protect the deceased (again, in her manifestation as a kite). The typical use for an amulet of Isis according to the Great Book of the Dead, was to bestow upon the deceased some of the magical power of the goddess Isis. If a particular Chapter of the Book of the Dead were recited over the amulet, and the amulet were then laid upon the body of the deceased, that in the underworld he or she would be then protected by Isis. The very words probably recited over this very amulet over twenty-five hundred years ago were, "let the blood of Isis, and the magical powers of Isis, and the words of power of Isis, be mighty to protect and keep safely this great god (the deceased), and to guard him from him that would do unto him anything which he abominateth."

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.

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. We are the Southern Urals State Student Association for Archaeological and Anthropological Studies in Russia. We use the proceeds of our sales to buy used notebook computers, study and reference materials, and provide meaningful part-time and full-time employment for our undergraduate and postgraduate association members. We also help support other institutions and organizations within Russia involved in the study of anthropology and archaeology. 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.

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.

Our order fulfillment center near Seattle, Washington will ship your purchase within one business day of receipt of your personal check or money order. If you wish to pay electronically, we accept both PayPal and BidPay. However we ask that you PLEASE WAIT before remitting until we have mutually agreed upon method of shipment and shipping charges and you understand our PayPal limitations and policies (stated here). We will ship within one business day of our receipt of your electronic remittance.

A certificate of authenticity (COA) is available upon request. We prefer your personal check or money order over any other form of payment - and we will ship immediately upon receipt of your check (no "holds"). Please see our "ADDITIONAL TERMS OF SALE."