Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Amulet emphasizing a pair of horns

Naqada II
ca. 3650–3300 B.C.
From Egypt
H. 4.8 x W. 2.2 x Th. 0.4 cm (1 7/8 x 7/8 x 3/16 in.)
Credit Line:
Rogers Fund, 1907
Accession Number:
Not on view
The object's small size and abstract representation of a pair of cattle horns, suggests its idnetification as an amulet.
Depictions of bovines are common in Predynastic art and their representations have been found incised on jars, represented on pottery and palettes, as rock art, and as a shape knapped in flint. This small amulet in all likelihood is another bovid image. A particularly large and more detailed example (6-18226, Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology, University of California, Berkeley) communicates a clear image of a bovid with drill holes suggesting the eyes and a base that is shaped like a muzzle. A comparison of 07.228.124 to the one from el-Ahaiwah at the Hearst Museum suggests this object is a smaller version of the concept.

For many years, the horns were identified as a pair of outward-facing birds but that interpretation did not explain the structure of the lower half of these amulets. An identification of these small amulets as bovids makes the imagery in the amulet more cohesive while fitting into a dominant theme in early Egyptian art, the representation of cattle.

Diana Craig Patch, 2015
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