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ID number:  ECM 2133
Named collection:  The Eton Myers Collection
Title / Object name:  Djed Pillar Amulet
Object type:  Amulet
Culture:  Egyptian
Collector:  Myers, William Joseph
Materials:  Faience (blue)
Measurements:  overall: 2.87 cm x 0.84 cm x 0.57 cm (H x W x D)
Provenance:  Unknown

Modelled djed pillar amulet with dorsal pillar. A transverse piercing in the pillar was used for suspension.

Bibliography:  For further discussion of amulets, see:

Allen, T. G. 1974. The Book of the Dead or Going Forth by Day: Ideas of the Ancient Egyptians Concerning the Hereafter as Expressed in their own Terms. Chicago. (p. 155-154)

Andrews, C. 1994. Amulets of Ancient Egypt. London. (p. 82-83)

Lurker, M. 2002. An Illustrated Dictionary of the Gods and Symbols of Ancient Egypt. London. (p. 46-47)

Petrie, W. M. F. 1914. Amulets. London. (p. 15, pl. III-IV)

Notes:  The iconography of the djed pillar first appears in the heb-sed court of the Third Dynasty Step Pyramid of Djoser at Saqqara, although it does not appear in amuletic form until the late Old Kingdom. At this time the symbol was associated with the Memphite funerary god Sokar, but was later incorporated into the iconography of the local god Ptah. The symbol formed the focal point of the ritual of ‘raising the djed pillar’, which involved erecting a large djed (probably a tree trunk with branches chopped off). By the New Kingdom, the djed was adopted into Osirian iconography and became associated with the god’s backbone. The ritual of ‘raising the djed pillar’ then came to symbolise Osiris’ victory over Seth and his eventual resurrection – it was through this association that the djed became a popular funerary amulet.

Djed amulets are among the most popular found in ancient Egypt, very often covering the lower torsos of mummies. Chapter 155 of the Book of the Dead stipulates that the amulet should be made of gold, although faience (blue and yellow), glass and carnelian examples exist. Many New Kingdom coffins have djed pillars painted on their bottoms to associate the deceased with the god Osiris, something made more explicit in Chapter 155:

‘Thou hast thy backbone, Weary-hearted One; thou hast thy vertebrae, Weary-hearted One. Mayest thou put thyself on thy side, that I may supply thee with water. Behold, I have brought thee the pillar-amulet (of gold), that thou mayest rejoice thereover.’

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Myers, William Joseph
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