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ID number:  ECM 1666
Named collection:  The Eton Myers Collection
Title / Object name:  Bes Amulet
Object type:  Amulet
Culture:  Egyptian
Date made:  Third Intermediate Period (c. 1076 - 723 BCE)
Collector:  Myers, William Joseph
Materials:  Faience (blue)
Measurements:  overall: 4.03 cm x 1.68 cm x 1.04 cm (H x W x D)
Provenance:  Unknown
ECM1666.i.jpg

Modelled amulet of the god Bes standing frontally with his hands on his thighs. Finely carved details of the face include a large beard/mane and piercings through his nose and ears. Completely carved out areas between the arms and body, and between the legs can be seen, as well as the remains of the top and bottom of an animal tail on the reverse of the figure. A large suspension lug is located behind the tall plumed headdress.

Bibliography:  For more information, see:

Andrews, C. 1994. Amulets of Ancient Egypt. London. (p. 39)

Luiselli, M. M. 2016. 'Living with the Gods: Religion and Daily Life in Ancient Egypt', in S. Boonstra (ed.), Objects Come to Life Virtual Exhibition, Birmingham Egyptology

Petrie, W. M. F. 1914. Amulets. London. (p. 40-41, pl. XXXIII - XXXIV)

Romano, J. 1980. ‘The Origin of the Bes-Image’, Bulletin of the Egyptological Seminar 2, 39-56.

Notes:  Amulets depicting the god Bes first appeared during the 18th Dynasty, although the iconography of Bes can be seen in earlier Middle Kingdom ivory knives/wands. Amulets of Bes remained popular into the Roman Period and exhibit a number of variations.

Many Bes amulets represent him frontally, with his hands resting on his hips or bandy legs, which have been shown to hearken back to his leonine origins. However, the anthropomorphism of Bes during the 18th Dynasty also resulted in the introduction of amulets depicting Bes in profile, striding forward playing a musical instrument, usually a tambourine or drum. It is also during this period that Bes develops his iconic dwarf-like character that typifies his iconography for the rest of dynastic history. During the Third Intermediate Period Bes-head amulets became popular, very often depicting the god sticking out his tongue or bearing his teeth. The protective qualities of these amulets are most obviously shown in Greco-Roman examples when the god is shown brandishing military weapons or shields.

It is thought that Bes amulets were probably worn during the lifetime of their owners, particularly by pregnant women and children. In this capacity they served to protect these vulnerable groups through childbirth and infancy. Bes was considered a divine protector of family and household, although particularly children seem to have benefited from his safeguarding power.

2 Related Media Items

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1 Related People

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Myers, William Joseph
British
1858-08
1899-10-30
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