Egyptian; Abydos, Cemetery D, Tomb 33
Gift of Egypt Exploration Fund, 1900 (00.4.39)
This symbol illustrates a knotted piece of cloth whose early meaning is unknown, but in the New Kingdom it was clearly associated with the goddess Isis, the great magician and wife of Osiris. By this time, the tyet symbol was referred to as the "blood of Isis" and scholars have suggested that it might depict the cloth a woman used during menstruation. Knots were widely used as amulets because the Egyptians believed they bound and released magic. The tyet sign was considered a potent symbol of protection in the afterlife and the Book of the Dead specifies that the tyet be made of blood-red stone, like this example, and placed at the deceased's neck.