From Egypt, Upper Egypt, Thebes, Deir el-Bahri, Tomb of Henenu (TT 313, MMA 510), MMA excavations, 1922–24
W. 2.3 cm (7/8 in.)
Rogers Fund, 1926
Not on view
This string was found around a papyrus inscribed with an incantation for protection, invoking the eight deities of the Ogdoad in order to protect the individual named in the final line (26.225a-b). At the bottom center, a drawing once featured two symmetrically arranged crocodiles facing and attacking a figure positioned between them. The papyrus would have been folded into a small package and worn on a string around the neck.
This string was found tied around a rectangular sheet of papyrus, inscribed with four lines of text and, at bottom center, a drawing. The text is written in a well-trained cursive hand, whose sign forms are characteristic for the Ramesside Period. The drawing is partly destroyed due to the hole that cuts down through the middle of the lower half of the sheet. To the right of the hole, a crocodile can be seen, facing left. To the left of the hole, a downward curved stroke is all that remains of the tail of another crocodile, facing right. Originally the drawing featured two symmetrically arranged crocodiles facing and attacking a figure positioned between them. The text is an incantation for protection. It invokes the so-called Ogdoad, a corporation of eight deities associated with the city of Hermopolis, and instructs them to protect the individual named in the final line against all possible harm in the same way as they once saved the sun god Re himself from his four enemies. The drawing is likewise protective in nature. The figure in the middle (now lost) symbolizes a dangerous and chaotic force such as a demon or personified disease. The two ferocious crocodiles contain and neutralize the threat by their vicious attack on the figure. Both text and image define the artifact clearly as a textual amulet. The person named in the incantation wore it on a string around the neck, folded into a small rectangular package, in the belief that the protective power of both incantation and drawing would keep him or her from harm. When the object was found, it was still folded as a package and tied at one end with a short string (26.3.225c). It was folded with the inscription on the inside, invisible from view, so that the protective power would stay inside the object. Its dimensions, page layout, and folding pattern are consistent with other textual amulets of the same period. The scribe did not improvise, but followed a well-established procedure in making the textual amulet. Jacco Dieleman, UCLA, 2016
Excavated by the Metropolitan Museum of Art Egyptian Expedition, 1922-23. Allotted to the Museum by the Egyptian Government in the division of finds.