Hand and Foot Amulets

Period: Old Kingdom–First Intermediate Period

Dynasty: Dynasty 5–8

Date: ca. 2465–2100 B.C.

Geography: From Egypt

Medium: Carnelian

Dimensions: Hand: L. 1.6 cm (5/8 in.)
Foot: L. 1.7 cm (11/16 in.)

Credit Line: Gift of Helen Miller Gould, 1910

Accession Number: 10.130.2355, .2358-related


During the Old Kingdom and First Intermediate Period, small amulets of hands (10.130.2358) and feet (10.130.2355) were commonly included in bracelets and anklets. These amulets protected the limbs and extremities of their wearers, while possibly conferring abilities such as dexterity, creative potential, or speed. Often these amulets were made of carnelian, an orange-red stone. The color, reminiscent of blood, would bring power and energy to the amulet.