American Univesity of Beirut

Amulets & Talismans at the AUB Museum

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​Since the dawn of time, man has tried to protect himself from evil forces. These “devils" were also the cause of destruction, disease and misfortune during his life on earth. There were good spirits as well with protective virtues.

The amulet is an object with natural magical properties, whereas a talisman must be charged with magical powers by a creator; it is this act of consecration or "charging" that gives the talisman its alleged magical powers. The talisman is always made for a definite reason while an amulet can be used for generic purposes such as averting evil or attracting good luck.
Their form, material and color had the power to ward off curses.

Let's have a look at some of these amulets at the AUB Museum:

A green faience amulet (Inv.# 3457) representing Nefertum, ancient sun god of Lower Egypt, standing, legs broken, arms extended along body, wearing a short skirt, a braided beard on chin, folds of headdress falling on shoulders, and a lofty crown, with a ring above head for suspension. The Egyptians often carried small statues of him as good luck charms.​

A blue faience talisman (Inv.# 35.x.64) pierced laterally for suspension, represent the eye of Horus, a symbol of protection, good health and royal authority bestowed upon the pharaoh and his people. This eye (wedjat-eye), which has been and still is a common talisman that gives sight into the other world.

A red limestone figurine of a seated monkey (Inv.# 5428), hands placed over the mouth. The monkey is widely seen as a symbol of mischief and inquisitiveness. In ancient Egypt the monkey was deeply respected and thought to be the protector of the living. 

A bronze amulet (Inv.# 3125) representing a Medusa head, hair arranged in a row of curls in front descending in wide locks below the ears; on top of head a ring for suspension. As known, glazing directly into Medusa's eyes would turn onlookers to stone. The goddess Athena was famous for wearing the Medusa head on her shield. The symbolism therefore became one of protection from evil spirits.

A glazed faience amulet (Inv.# 4999) representing a fisted hand with traces of bracelet at wrist, perforated laterally for suspension. The hand was and still is considered an instrument of blessing, transferring energy and power. This symbol is called the hand of God, of Marry, and of Fatima or Khomsa of the Arabs.

Follow us to discover more artifacts from the AUB Museum collection!​


Amulet of Nefertum;
Inv.# 3457;
(8.1x2.1x1.6cm)

















​Monkey amulet;
Inv.# 5428;
(3x1.2x2.4cm)​

Medusa head pendant;
Inv.# 3125;
(2.1x1.7x1.2cm)



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​          Hand amulet;
            Inv.# 4999;
          (0.8x2x0.7cm)​


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