Ancient Egypt Thoth God of Wisdom Amulet 500BC $199.99 - SOLD
Gorgeous Turquoise Blue Ancient Egyptian Baboon (Thoth, "God of Wisdom") 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: 33mm in height, 18mm in width , 7mm thickness; 75cm faience "mummybead" necklace (30 inches).
WEIGHT: 3.69 grams (amulet only).
CONDITION: Excellent, faience 90% intact, exceptionally sharp detail preserved. Professionally conserved.
DETAIL: A large 2,400 year old gorgeous turquoise colored faience/composition amulet of the ancient Egyptian God of Wisdom, Learning, and Measurements, "Thoth". The baboon, being Thoth's "sacred animal", is construed as at least an indirect reference to Thoth. But the baboon was also a manifestation of "Khonsu", who like Thoth was a moon god, but unlike Thoth, was but a minor deity in the Ancient Egyptian Pantheon. There was also a baboon god in the Early Dynastic period named Hedjwer, 'The Great White One', who became closely linked with Thoth. Predating Hedjwer, there was also a pre-dynastic baboon deity known as "Baba", a very aggressive deity representing male virility. As well, Hapy, the son of Horus who guarded the canopic jar that held the lungs, had the head of a baboon. You can see that baboon was a popular manifestation of a number of deities, though inarguably the most significant of these was Thoth, and given the time frame, was most likely a representation of Thoth. The amulet is fairly large (as such amulets go), and is quite distinctive and handsome. The amulet possesses sharply molded features, and is exceptionally well preserved. The depiction is of a squatting baboon, wearing at least a wig, probably a royal "nemes" headcloth.
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. It is well detailed and a very artistic rendition of a baboon. The amulet has survived almost 2,400 years of burial without any cosmetically or structurally significant chips, breaks, or cracks; the amulet 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 over twenty-four 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 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.
The Baboon was most typically associated with the ancient Egyptian God of Wisdom, Thoth. Only two species of primate were known in Egypt, one of which was the "dog-faced" baboon (Papio hamadryas). Probably a native of Nubia, it was brought into Egypt in pre-dynastic times, and became sacred to the ancient Egyptians. Baboons were very popular in Egypt, and sometimes kept as pets. Many tomb scenes show the animal led on a leash, or playing with the children of the household. It is believed that some baboons were trained by their owners to pick figs in the trees for them. The baboon was also very admired in Egypt for its intelligence and also for its sexual lustfulness. Baboon feces was an ingredient in Egyptian aphrodisiac ointments. The baboon was considered a solar animal by the ancient Egyptians. This may be due to the animals habit of screeching at daybreak or because of their practice of warming themselves in the early morning sun. The ancient Egyptians believed these were signs that the baboon worshipped the sun. Baboons were often portrayed in art with their arms raised in worship of the sun. They were also shown holding the Udjat, a solar symbol or shown riding in the day boat of the sun-god Re.
The baboon was also of religious significance to the ancient Egyptians. The name of the most ancient Egyptian baboon god, Baba, who was worshipped in Pre-Dynastic times, may be the origin of the animal's name. Baba was a fierce, bloodthirsty baboon god who was ancient even in the realm of Egyptian gods. Old Kingdom descriptions of Baba describe him as the "bull" (dominant male) of the baboons, with supernatural aggression, an attribute to which the Pharaoh aspired. Baba was said to "control the darkness and open up the sky for the king since his phallus is the bolt on the doors of heaven". This virility symbol is carried over into a later spell where in order to ensure successful sexual intercourse in the Afterlife a man identifies his sexuality with Baba. In mythology the Underworld ferryboat uses Baba's phallus as its mast. According to legend this dangerous god lived on human entrails and murdered on sight. Hence spells (or a magic amulet) were needed to protect oneself against him, particularly during the weighing of the heart ceremony in the Hall of the Two Truths where a person's fitness for paradise is determined. Conversely Baba could use his immense power to ward off dangers like snakes and control turbulent waters.
However as the "Old Kingdom" progressed and evolved, the baboon came to be most closely associated with Thoth, the god of wisdom, science and measurement. As Thoth's sacred animal, the baboon was often shown directing scribes in their task. Baboons carried out Thoth's duties as the god of measurement when they were portrayed at the spout of water clocks, and on the scales which weighed the heart of the deceased in the judgment of the dead. The baboon had several other funerary roles. Baboons were said to guard the first gate of the underworld in the "Book of That Which is in the Underworld". In Chapter 155 of the "Book of the Dead", four baboons were described as sitting as the corners of a pool of fire in the Afterlife. One of the Four Sons of Horus, Hapy, had the head of a baboon and protected the lungs of the deceased. Canopic jars with the lungs of the deceased generally possessed a lid with the head of a baboon.
The Egyptians believed that Thoth was the scribe of the gods, documenting and disseminating their sacred decisions. In this role, representing the embodiment of precision, trustworthiness and meticulousness, Thoth represented a model for the privileged and esteemed Egyptian scribe class. Thoth is usually represented as an ibis or baboon/dog headed man carrying a reed pen and a writing palette signifying his status as god of writing. One of his pseudonyms was "lord of the reed pen" and as such was credited as "the one who created writing" and the invention of the Egyptian system of hieroglyphics. Thoth was considered the wisest of the Egyptian gods, the baboon and ibis god of the moon. Thoth was the god who overcame the curse of Ra, allowing Nut to give birth to her five children. It was he who helped Isis bring Osiris back from the dead, and who drove the magical poison of Seth from her son. He was Horus' supporter during the young god's deadly battle with his uncle Seth, helping Horus with his wisdom and magic. It was Thoth who, disguised as a baboon, brought Tefnut, who left Egypt for Nubia in a sulk after an argument with her father, back to heaven to be reunited with Ra.
In some of the earliest creation myths Thoth is the voice of Ptah as Ptah emerges from the Cosmic Egg. In the creation myth of the Ogdoad revealing the Ennead, Thoth (Djehuti) and Seshat (one of Thoth's daughters) play the role of primary creation deities. Other myths label Thoth as the son of Ra, while yet another has Thoth springing forth from the head of Seth. All of these myths show him as a divinity whose counsel is always sought. Thoth was also present at the judgement of the dead. He would question the deceased before recording the result of the weighing of the deceased's heart. If the result was favorable Thoth would declare the deceased as a righteous individual who was worthy of a blessed afterlife. Thoth was also known as Djehuti, Tehuti, Zehuti, Djhowtey, and in Ptolemaic Egypt, as Hermes Trismegistus. The cult center for the worship of Thoth was located in Hermopolis (Khmunu). As he was messenger of the gods, Thoth was identified by the Greeks with their own god Hermes. For this reason Thoth's center of worship is still known to us today as Hermopolis.
As the Egyptian religion evolved, Thoth's role became extended and he became associated with knowledge and wisdom in general. In this capacity he was credited with the invention of mathematics, astronomy and engineering and was described as "the one who is sharp of perception" and "the one who knows all that is". Thoth was also credited for the knowledge behind the "wisdom texts"; the moral rules that governed the Ancient Egyptian society. Not only was Thoth the God of Measurements, and so weighed the hearts of the dead; but he also measured the water flow of the Nile; and is credited with correctly measuring 365 days in each year. One of Thoth's daughters, Sheshat also became deified as a goddess. Sheshat kept detailed records of the pharaohs and became was associated with mathematics, architecture, writing and history.
According to legend, Thoth gave to his successors the Book of Thoth, or the "Key to Immortality," which contained the secret processes for the regeneration of humanity and the expansion of consciousness that would enable mankind to behold the gods. There are stories, or theories, concerning the Book of Thoth, some say at first in was kept in a temple in a sealed golden box, and used in the ancient Mysteries. When the practice of these Mysteries declined, it was carried to another unknown land, where it still exists after being safely preserved, and it still leads disciples to the presence of the Immortals. Thoth was the 'One who Made Calculations Concerning the Heavens, the Stars and the Earth', the 'Reckoner of Times and of Seasons', the one who 'Measured out the Heavens and Planned the Earth'. He was 'He who Balances', the 'God of the Equilibrium' and 'Master of the Balance'. 'The Lord of the Divine Body', 'Scribe of the Company of the Gods', the 'Voice of Ra', the 'Author of Every Work on Every Branch of Knowledge, Both Human and Divine', he who understood 'all that is hidden under the heavenly vault'. Thoth was not just a scribe and friend to the gods, but central to order - ma'at - both in Egypt and in the Duat. He was 'He who Reckons the Heavens, the Counter of the Stars and the Measurer of the Earth'
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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