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Egypt Thoth God of Wisdom Carved Amulet 500BC $249.99


For Customers outside of USA

Hand Carved Blue-Green Faience Coated Soapstone Ancient Egyptian Baboon (Thoth, "God of Wisdom") Amulet and Faience Bead Necklace.

27th Dynasty, Fifth Century B.C.

SIZE: 32mm length, 18mm breadth, 9mm thickness (dimensions exclude display stand)..

WEIGHT: 4.61 grams (amulet only).

Amulet mounted onto 30 inch faience "mummybead" necklace.

CONDITION: Excellent, almost entirely intact, exceptionally sharp detail preserved. Professionally conserved. Professional cleaning available upon request (reverse electrolysis) so as to restore "original appearance".

DETAIL: Here's a 2,500-year-old, hand-carved steatite (soapstone) amulet that depicts a dog-faced baboon, the sacred animal of Thoth, who was the ancient Egyptian god of wisdom, learning and measurements. An indirect reference to Thoth, the baboon is also a manifestation of Khonsu, who like Thoth was a moon god, but was unlike Thoth in that he was a minor and not a major deity in the ancient Egyptian pantheon of gods. In the Early Dynastic period there was also a baboon god named Hedjwer, the "Great White One," who became closely linked with Thoth. Before Hedjwer in pre-dynastic times, there was Baba, an aggressive deity that represented male virility and was again, also associated with Thoth. Additionally, Horus's son Hapy, who had the head of a baboon, guarded the canopic jar that held the lungs of the deceased. And so, the baboon was the manifestation of a number of deities, most significant of which was Thoth. As amulets go, this one is well preserved, with sharply incised features. This squatting baboon is known as a "dog-faced" baboon.

Certainly not your normal specimen made crude by the passing of time, this amulet came through over 2,000 years of burial relatively unscathed, and is devoid of the usual chips, breaks and cracks. We've mounted it on a necklace of blue-green faience mummy beads that are between 15 and 30 mm (3/4 to 1 1/4 inches) in length and about three mm (1/8 inch) in diameter, accented with faience-silica composition discs. An impressive combination of artifacts, the necklace is long enough (30 inches) to fit over the head and designed to suspend the amulet at mid-chest. This elegant marriage of amulet and beads may be worn with pride.

The steatite from which this amulet is carved is a soft mineral, also known as soapstone. After being carved, it received a turquoise-colored faience glaze. The ancient Egyptians, who associated blue-green with the sacred Nile, favored faience-glazed soapstone. Amulets of this type are exquisitely detailed and, being of soapstone, most are well-preserved. Faience was produced by crushing quartz with copper ore, which acted as a coloring agent. Then the mixture was made into a paste, which was applied to the soapstone and then heated. The quartz fused and the copper incused the quartz glaze with its characteristic blue-green hue. Given the passage of time it is not uncommon for such amulets to lose their faience glaze, beneath which is seen the lighter-colored beige steatite. Very few specimens retain all of their original glaze.

HISTORY: Though made in many sizes of many materials, including terracotta, wood, stone, bronze, silver, gold and sometimes precious gemstones, amulets were most often made of faience, a ceramic precursor of glass. Ancient Egyptians made faience by crushing quartz and mixing it with a coloring agent, most typically copper ore. The resulting paste was put into a mold, then fired. Under fire the quartz migrated to the surface of the item, fused and provided a shiny glaze. The fired copper lent the item blue and/or green hues, favored by the ancient Egyptians because they reflected the life-giving Nile River. So important was faience that priests almost always oversaw the process of grinding, mixing and firing.

Like so many other forms and mediums of ancient jewelry (Greek, Roman, Sumerian; bronze, gold, silver), amulets were mass produced for the Egyptian populace. It was literally "industry" for the wealthy, omnipresent temples of ancient Egypt. It is interesting to note that the state of preservation is sometimes due to superior workmanship and the quality of the mold that produced the amulet. Craftsmanship bespeaks an artisan's pride and abilities even now, 2,000 or more years later. On the other hand, an inferior product has more often than not survived as a crudely shaped, poorly featured object, coarse and undistinguished in nature.

The ancient Egyptian civilization was one of the greatest in the recorded history of the world. Talismans from this era are prized and collected 2,500 years later. The Egyptians worshipped many gods, which represented elements of the natural world, sky, earth, sun, and wind. Representations of these gods took the form of animals or animal/human figures. These amulets were worn on the body to protect in life. They also gave magical powers to the dead, fitting them for the afterlife. The Egyptian Book of the Dead instructed that 104 different kinds of amulets be buried with the preserved body for the life after death journey. These amulets were wound within as many as 80-layers of linen burial cloths. Thus, the mummies of distinguished citizens possessed literally hundreds and hundreds of amulets representing significant Egyptian deities.

There were only two species of primate known in Egypt. One was the dog-faced baboon. (Papio hamadryas). which was brought from its likely native habitat in Nubia into Egypt during pre-dynastic times, after which it became sacred to the ancient Egyptians. Baboons were extremely popular as household pets and are depicted in numerous tomb scenes on a leash, playing with the children. It is also believed that the primates were trained to pick figs. Admired for their intelligence and lusty sexual nature, even their feces were used in aphrodisiac ointments. Baboons came to be known as solar creatures, likely due to their dawn screeches or their habit of warming themselves in the sun. Thus they are depicted with arms raised in sun-worship or embracing the Udjat, a solar symbol, or even riding in the day-boat of the sun god, Ra.

The baboon had great religious significance. As mentioned, Baba was worshipped in pre-dynastic times and may even be the origin of the name baboon. Baba was fierce and bloodthirsty, described in Old Kingdom literature as the bull or dominant male of the baboon group. He was said to murder on sight and feast on human entrails; conversely he used magical powers to ward off dangerous snakes and calm turbulent seas. He was attributed supernatural aggression, something to which Pharaoh aspired. He was able to open the doors to heaven, for his phallus was the bolt on the doors and additionally the mast on the ferryboat to the underworld.

Later, as the Old Kingdom waned, the baboon became more closely associated with Thoth, the aforesaid god of wisdom, science and measurement. He directed Thoth's scribes in their duties. He carried out Thoth's measurement assignments and is depicted at the spout of water clocks and presiding over the scales on which the hearts of the deceased are weighed. He guarded the first gate of the underworld. As described in chapter 155 of the Book of the Dead, four baboons sit at the corners of a pool of fire in the afterlife. And the aforementioned Hapy, with his baboon head, kept watch over the lungs of the deceased. Indeed, the canopic jar that held the lungs frequently had a baboon head on its lid.

The wisest of the Egyptian deities, Thoth is usually depicted as an ibis or a baboon-headed man that carries a reed pen and writing tablet which signify his status as scribe of the gods. Thoth overcame the curse of Ra, allowing Nut to give birth to her five children. He helped Isis bring Osiris back from the dead and drove Seth's poison from her son. Through wisdom and magic, he supported Horus during his deadly battle with Seth. It was he who disguised himself as a baboon and followed Tefnut to Nubia, from whence he persuaded her to return to be reunited with Ra.

In the earliest creation myths Thoth was the voice of Ptah as Ptah emerges from the cosmic egg. In some he is named the son of Ptah. No matter how named or depicted, his wisdom was always sought. He was variously known as Djehuti, Tehuti, Zehuti, Djhowtey, and, in Ptolemaic times, as Hermes Trismegisus, identified by the Greeks with their own god. Because of this association, Thoth's center of worship is known to us as Hermopolis. Sharp of perception and named "he that knows all that is," Thoth is credited with the invention of mathematics, astronomy and engineering. It was supposedly he who gave humankind 365 days a year and measured the flood water stage of the Nile.

According to Egyptian legend, Thoth - "He who reckons the Heavens, the counter of the stars, and the measurer of the earth" - bequeathed to his successors the Book of Thoth, which was said to contain sacred formulae for the regeneration of humanity and the expansion of human consciousness that would afford a glimpse of the gods and the key to immortality. Some say the Book of Thoth was contained in a sealed, golden box and hidden in a temple, where it was consulted by those who practiced the ancient Mysteries. When the Mysteries waned in popularity and were no longer practiced, the box reputedly was taken to an unknown land where it exists and still leads seekers to the presence of the immortals. Thoth was much more than scribe of the gods. He was "He who reckons the heavens, the counter of the stars, and the measurer of the earth." Moreover, he reckoned the times and seasons, calculated the stars and the earth and planned the working of all that is. In other words, he was "master of the balance, the lord of the divine body, the voice of Ra and the author of every work on every branch of knowledge human and divine."

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.

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