Sakhmet amulet pendant, Dyn. 18

Sakhmet amulet pendant, Dyn. 18
Period:Egypt, New Kingdom, Dynasty 18
Dating:1570 BC–1398 BC
Origin:Egypt, Upper Egypt, Thebes
Material:Faience (all types)
Physical:8.2cm. (3.2 in.) -

Links to other views:

⇒ Larger View
if scripting is off, click the ⇒ instead.

• • •

Links to others from Dynasty 18

Alabaster unguent jar, Dyn. 18
Alabaster unguent vase, Dyn. 18
Amenhotep III as Amun-Min, Dyn 18
Amulet of Bes, Dyn. 18
Amulet of god Thoth as a Baboon, Dyn. 18
Anthropomorphic mirror handle, Dyn. 18
Basalt shawabti of a king, early Dyn. 18
Blue faience ring, udjat eye, Dyn. 18
Blue faience shawabti, Dyn.18
Bronze Horus sarcophagus, Dyn.18
Bronze insigna-pendant of Atum, Dyn. 18
Bronze of a king as Osiris, Dyn. 18
Bronze of Sakhmet seated, early Dyn. 18
Bronze statuette of Apis, Dyn. 18
Cartonnage of Princess Baket, Dyn. 18
Cartouche ring of Akhenaten, Dyn. 18
Carved face from a sarcophagus, Dyn. 18
Carved face from a sarcophagus, N.K.
Copper inlay for a box, Dyn. 18
Divine scarab, reign of Thutmose IV
Enameled feathers of Amun, Dyn. 18
Extensible bronze bracelet, Dyn. 18
Faience ear ornament, Dyn. 18
Foundation marker from Amenhotep III
Funerary box (panel), Dyn. 18-33
Gilded ib, heart amulet, Dyn.18
Gilded mkrt, snake amulet, Dyn. 18
Gilded ‘tit’ (girdle of Isis) amulet, Dyn. 18
Granite cartouche of Akhenaten, Dyn. 18
Head, realistic portrait in stone, Dyn 18
Horus-the-Child as a ruling king, Dyn. 18
Ibis-headed Thoth with human body, Dyn.18
King Amenhotep II (?) as Amun-Re, Dyn. 18
King Horemheb as a sphinx, Dyn. 18
King Horemheb as Amun-Re, Dyn. 18
King wearing the royal headdress, Dyn. 18
Limestone shawabti, early Dyn. 18
Lotus necklace terminal, Egypt, Dyn. 18
Monumental bronze feather, Dyn. 18
Mummy mask of a young woman, Dyn. 18
Nekhbet, vulture-goddess of Nekheb
New Year’s flask for sacred water, Dyn.18
Osiris, King of the Afterlife, Dyn. 18
Osiris of an unknown king, Dyn. 18 (?)
Osiris-Neper, god of agriculture, Dyn. 18
Pair of udjat eyes of Horus, Dyn. 18
Palm leaf amulet, Dyn. 18-19
Palm leaf amulet, Dyn. 18-19
Pillar capital, Hathor, Dyn. 18
Polychrome glass cup, Dyn 18
Queen as Goddess Mut, Dyn.18
Queen Hatshepsut as Goddess Mut, Dyn. 18
Queen Hatshepsut as Hathor, Dyn. 18
Queen Isis as Isis nursing Thutmose III
Royal situla, sacred water vessel, Dyn.18
Royal wooden sarcophagus lid, Dyn. 18
Sarcophagus of a king, Dyn. 18
Sarcophagus of a queen, Dyn. 18
Scarab “begets the existence of Amun”
Scarab of protection, Dyn. 18
Scarab of Thutmose III, Dyn. 18
Scarab of Thutmose III, Dyn. 18
Scarab of Thutmose III, Dyn. 18
Scarab of Thutmose III, Dyn. 18
Scarab of Thutmose III, Dyn. 18
Scarab of Thutmose III, Dyn. 18
Scarab of Thutmose III, Dyn. 18
Scarab of Thutmose III, Dyn. 18
Scarab of Thutmose III, Dyn. 18
Scarab of Thutmose III, Dyn. 18
Scarab with Amun-Re, solar discs, Dyn. 18
Scarab with ‘Ba’, Dyn. 18
Scarab with “faith in Justice,” Dyn. 18
Scarab with Goddess Hathor
Scarab with Horus of the Horizon, Dyn. 18
Scarab with ‘nsw-bity’, Dyn. 18
Scarab with ‘sa’ singing birds, Dyn. 18
Shawabti of Amen, vizier of Amenhotep III
Shawabti of Queen Mutemwia. Dyn.18
Signet-ring of Tutankhamun, Dyn. 18
Statuette of a privileged man, Dyn. 18
Stone bust of a scribe, Dyn. 18
Stone shawabti of a Nubian viceroy, Dyn. 18
Stone statue of King Thutmose III, Dyn. 18
Two cobras from the queen’s crown
Udjat eye amulet-pendant, Dyn. 18
Uninscribed wooden shawabti, Dyn. 18
Uraeus from a royal crown, Dyn. 18
Wood statue of King Smenkhkare, Dyn. 18
Wooden sarcophagus lid, Dyn. 18
Wooden sarcophagus lid, Dyn.18
Wooden sarcophagus lid, Dyn. 18

Links to others representing Sakhmet

Amulet-pendant of Sakhmet, Dyn. 22
Bronze of Sakhmet seated, Dyn. 20-23
Bronze of Sakhmet seated, early Dyn. 18
Bronze statuette of Sakhmet, Dyn. 20
Faience amulet of Bastet, c. 750 BC.
Stone seal of King Mentuhetep II, Dyn. 11

Links to others of type Amulet

Amulet of Duamutef, Dyn. 25
Amulet of god Thoth as a Baboon, Dyn. 18
Amulet of Imsety, Dyn. 25
Amulet of Pataikos, Dyn. 26
Amulet of Ptah-Sokar, Dyn. 20-21
Amulet of Shu, Dyn. 26
Amulet-pendant of Sakhmet, Dyn. 22
Blue glass amulet, Palestine, c. 450 AD
Bronze Nefertem pendant amulet, Dyn. 25
Djed pillar, amulet of powers, Dyn. 26
Faience amulet of Anubis, 525-334 BC
Faience amulet of Qebhsenuef, Dyn. 25
Gilded ib, heart amulet, Dyn.18
Gilded mkrt, snake amulet, Dyn. 18
Gilded ‘tit’ (girdle of Isis) amulet, Dyn. 18
Glass jug amulet, Palestine, c. 450 AD
Glass jug amulet, Palestine, c. 450 AD
Glass jug amulet, Palestine, c. 450 AD
Glass jug amulet, Palestine, c. 450 AD
Glass jug amulet, Palestine, c. 450 AD
Glass jug amulet, Palestine, c. 450 AD
Horus-the-child, Meroe, 590-300 BC
Large amulet of Pataikos, Dyn. 20
Large amulet of Pataikos, Dyn. 20-21
Palm leaf amulet, Dyn. 18-19
Palm leaf amulet, Dyn. 18-19
Shells amulet-pendant, c. 4500 BC
Sky Goddess Nut as a sow, 1085-760 BC
Two-fingers mummy amulet, Dyn. 26
Upper Egypt crown amulet, Dyn. 26
  This remarkable deep blue faience amulet of goddess Sakhmet was meant to be worn as a pendant to protect the wearer, as people today wear religious medals. The goddess is shown with the head of a lioness capped with an ample, majestic headdress, striding, and holding a papyrus scepter. The size and quality of the work suggest that it was a jewel as much as an amulet. New Kingdom, Dynasty 18.

Andrews (1994) documents a similar item on the back cover of Amulets of Ancient Egypt.

While several goddesses were represented with the head of a lioness, Sakhmet is certainly the most prominent throughout Egyptian history. Originally a local divinity from Letopolis, she soon was attached to Memphis, and said to be Ra’s daughter and the consort of Ptah (god of creation and original local god of Memphis).

Despite her peaceful appearance, she was a goddess of vengeful fury and unimaginable cruelty, who could unleash her brutal wrath on whomever rebelled against Ra (or the pharaoh). A legend found in royal tombs at Thebes tells of one such occasion: Once upon a time, Ra found out that humans were rebelling against him. He sent his Vengeful Eye—Goddess Hathor—to repress the insurrection. She descended upon Egypt, metamorphosed into Sakhmet (meaning “the powerful”), and proceeded to slaughter any human she could find. The desert was red with blood. Eventually, Ra ordered her to stop, fearing a complete extinction of the human race. But she answered “when I slay men, my heart rejoices,” and furthered her carnage with ever increasing savagery. When she rested for the night, Ra ordered his priests to fill seven thousand jars with a mix of beer and red ochre from Elephantine Island, and scatter them on Sakhmet’s path. The next day, when Sakhmet set to resume the massacre, she found the jars and drank the red beer, thinking that it was the blood of her enemies. She soon became so intoxicated from the alcohol that she collapsed. Thus, Ra saved the human race from Sakhmet’s murderous rage. Egyptians celebrated that myth yearly during the Hathor festival, with much drinking of “red beer”. (According to Guirand (1959), pomegranate juice was a key ingredient.)

This image of Sakhmet as the irrepressible destructive power of God (but also of the pharaoh, and by extension, of Egypt) when angered by enemies made her an effective instrument of state propaganda. Ramesses II’s account of the Battle of Qadesh reads:

Sakhmet the Great is the one who is with him,
She is with him on his horses, her hand is with him;
Anyone who goes to approach him,
Will experience the breath of fire burning his body!

And if Sakhmet’s breath could burn enemies in battle, it could also burn men by sending them a fever. Indeed, she was thought to instigate epidemics. And since she could bring on diseases, she was assumed to have the reciprocal power to repeal them. So, when someone fell sick, Egyptians took a two-pronged approach to treatment: calling a physician, and asking priests of Sakhmet to pray for the patient. The Overseer of the Priests of Sakhmet was also thought to have considerable medical knowledge. The guild of bone-setters was under the jurisdiction of her cult.

If, in the massacre myth above, Sakhmet was an “alternate personality” of Hathor, in some versions of the myth of the far-away goddess (see Anhur), she turns into Goddess Bastet as her anger dies down. The fusion of Sakhmet with the cat goddess Bastet is more than anecdotal. They share the title mistress of Ankhtawy (Memphis), and are both mothers of the lotus god Nefertum. Yet, their personality differs markedly.

In Thebes (Upper Egypt), there was a close association between the mother goddess Mut, and Sakhmet. Mut was usually portrayed as a slender woman, but sometimes as a lioness. King Amenhotep III (Dyn 18) had a statue of Sakhmet for each day of the year arranged around the temple of Mut, further demonstrating the connection between the two lionesses.

While Sakhmet is most often depicted as a woman with the head of a lioness wearing the solar disk and the uraeus (cobra), she can take a variety of other forms. She is occasionally seen with a whole crocodile or the Udjat Eye (the eye of Ra) instead of a head, or as God Min brandishing a dagger, or wholly as a lioness.

Amulets are objects generally kept on the person that are believed to confer some benefit to the wearer. While turn of the century archeologist Flinders Petrie (1914) enraged that “the belief in the magic effect of inanimate objects on the course of events is one of the lower stages of the human mind in seeking for principles of natural action. . .”, he had to concede that the use of amulets, talismans, and charms is very ingrained in many cultures to the present day. Many of us use lucky pens and wear religious medals without believing literally in their powers to affect our lives. But we still use them. They help us muster the confidence we need in times of self doubt. They empower us to dare, to believe in ourselves, to heal ourselves. Egyptians may have felt the same way. They used amulets on themselves and on their dead. Egyptians also seem to have had a passion for jewelry, and amulets were a good excuse to wear more jewelry.

Egyptians created an astonishing variety of amulets. The Dendera Amulets List, engraved on the thickness of a temple doorway, shows 104 different amulets for funerary use. The MacGregor Papyrus shows and names each one (Andrews 1994:7). Petrie described some 270 kinds of amulets in his 1914 monograph on the subject, and yet it was published before the excavation of many sites rich in amulets! He devised a classification system which, for all its flaws, is useful and still stands as no worse than any devised since to put order in that which defies classification: “The various ascertained meanings may be completely put in order under five great classes… (I) the amulets of Similars which are for influencing similar parts, or functions, or occurrences, for the wearer; (II) the amulets of Powers, for conferring powers and capacities, especially upon the dead; (III) the amulets of Property, which are entirely derived from the funeral offerings, and are thus peculiar to Egypt; (IV) the amulets for Protection, such as charms and curative amulets; (V) the figures of Gods, connected with the worship of the gods and their functions… Our classes then are here called amulets of
Similars, or Homopoeic.
Powers or Dynatic.
Property or Ktematic.
Protection or Phylactic.
Gods or Theophoric.”
(Petrie 1914:6 #17)

The evolution of amulets follows a fairly logical path. The first amulets were natural objects such as shells, and symbolically charged body parts of animals, such as claws from birds of prey. Then, still in predynastic times, we find figurines of significant animals, such as the hippopotamus, falcon, and jackal. Through the Old Kingdom, there was a development of animal forms with increasing levels of sophistication, and by the middle of the Old Kingdom we find the abstract symbolic subjects (such as the Ankh (sign meaning “life”), the Udjat eye of Horus, the Djed pillar, and the scarab) which remain some of the most emblematic symbols of Egyptian culture. During the First Intermediate Period we find amulets representing human body parts (ear, tongue, hand, arm, phallus, leg, heart...). The Middle Kingdom expanded the whole range of objects and gave the scarab its final form. But despite this considerable repertoire, amulets representing major gods remained rare until the end of the New Kingdom, at which time they suddenly flourished, and became as a group the most prevalent type until the end of Dynastic history. (Andrews 1994)

Dynasty 18
In many ways, Dynasty 18 could be viewed as the golden age of the Egyptian Civilization. Spanning almost 280 years (1570-1293 BC), it ushered in the New Kingdom by a return to a powerful, monolithic Egyptian nation unified by a heavily centralized government under the undivided control of the king.

Egypt’s dominions expanded to include territory rife with natural resources; this wealth of resources fueled Egypt’s economy to unprecedented levels; the economic activity prompted the development of international trade and diplomacy; cultural and technological exchanges, together with spreading wealth, yielded a blossoming of the arts, and a widespread refinement of the Egyptian culture.

It would be unfair, if not untrue, to suggest that the achievements of Dynasty 18 were greater than those of, say, Dynasty 12 in the Middle Kingdom, or Dynasty 3 in the Old Kingdom. But the sheer volume of exquisite material goods produced and preserved from that period, the tantalizing political intrigues and mysteries of its controversial monarchs (such as Queen Hatshepsut and King Akhenaten), and the comparatively extensive written record (both from within and without Egypt), cannot help but make Egypt’s Dynasty 18 a most fascinating period of human history.

Founded by King Ahmose, who reclaimed the Delta from the Hyksos, Dynasty 18 saw some of the most enlightened monarchs of Egypt’s history. Blending the unwavering projection of military power with the development of social policies and the shepherding of culture, they left an indelible mark on their civilization. After a long period of prosperity and stability under a succession of kings named Tuthmosis and Amenhotep (and the great queen Hatshepsut), the dynasty stumbled when Amenhotep IV attempted to change just about everything about Egyptian culture: under his new name Akhenaten, he left the old capital and built a new one, abandoned Egypt’s traditional gods and created a new monotheistic cult, abandoned Egypt’s established artistic conventions and fostered a new, disturbingly realistic, aesthetic canon. Too much, too fast, Akhenaten’s reforms were soon undone. His capital was abandoned, his monuments destroyed, and records of his reign meticulously expunged. Turning a new page, his successor Tutankhaten soon changed his name to Tutankhamun. The Dynasty never regained its luster, and soon made way for a new line of rulers emerging from the ranks of the military: the Ramessids.

Bibliography (for this item)

Andrews, Carol
1994 Amulets of Ancient Egypt. University of Texas Press, Austin, TX. (back cover
14 fig 8a)

Petrie, W.M. Flinders
1914 Amulets. Constable & Company, London, UK.

Bibliography (on Sakhmet)

Guirand, Felix
1968 New Larousse Encyclopedia of Mythology. Crescent Books, New York, NY. (36)

Hart, George
1986 A Dictionary of Egyptian Gods and Goddesses. Routledge & Kegan Paul, London, United Kingdom. (187)

Ions, Veronica
1969 Mythologie Egyptienne (Translation of the 1968 edition by the Hamlyn Publishing Group). ODEGE, Paris, France. (106)

Sauneron, Serge
2000 The Priests of Ancient Egypt. Cornell University Press, Ithaca, NY. (159)

Bibliography (on Amulet)

Andrews, Carol
1994 Amulets of Ancient Egypt. University of Texas Press, Texas.

Petrie, W.M. Flinders
1914 Amulets. Constable & Company, London, UK.

©2004 CIWA, All rights reserved.