A scaled-down replica of an ancient Egyptian amulet (lucky charm) in the shape of an ankh, the hieroglyphic sign for life.
The original is said to be from Gebel Barkal, Egypt. It is dated to between the 25th Dynasty to Late Period, about 700-500 BC.
Although amulets are often found in burials, this one was found in a temple and was not intended for funerary use. Because of its size and the absence of a lug by which to suspend it, it was probably made to be carried.
The magical properties of this amulet and the benefits it was to bestow on its owner are clearly expressed through the four hieroglyphic symbols of which it is composed. It expresses more than just the value of the ankh hieroglyph (meaning 'life'). Combined with the ankh are:
The was-sceptre, the hieroglyph for 'power', or 'dominion'
The djed pillar, the hieroglyph for 'stability'
The heh, a man with upraised arms, the hieroglyph for 'millions' (holding two 'year' hieroglyphs).
The whole object taken together represents a wish, probably for the king, of 'life, power and stability for millions of years', a very common type of Egyptian royal expression.
View the original in the British Museum collection here
Please note that this replica is presented on a small black stand.