Amulet in the form of a head of an elephant

Period: Predynastic, Naqada II

Date: ca. 3500–3300 B.C.

Geography: From Egypt

Medium: Serpentinite

Dimensions: h. 3.5 x w. 3.6 x d. 2.1 cm (1 3/8 x 1 7/16 x 13/16 in.)

Credit Line: Rogers Fund, 1959

Accession Number: 59.101.1


Few amulets from the Predynastic Period are known. In the past, Egyptologists identified these amulets as representing a bull's head, but the round face and eyes, the horns that curve inward to the face, and a snout with a defined ridge make a strong argument for its identification as an elephant. During this period, elephants lived in oasis-like zones in the high desert created by greater rainfall than today. They were probably a rare sight to floodplain dwellers, but their size, tusks, and aggressive displays made them an awe-inspiring creature and an excellent subject for a potent amulet.