Scepter / Amulet (Ankh)
Ancient Egypt is characterized by its mystical symbolism found among all the art forms and man-made creations. From the great pyramids to the cryptic hieroglyphics found within them. In popular culture, Egyptian symbolism often represents a sense of mystery and the unknown, and intrigues all kinds of people. There is are barely any Ancient Egyptian creations that do not include hidden or symbolic meanings, which must be interpreted by referencing symbolic code of Ancient Egypt. The size, material, color and hieroglyphs of an object all contribute to discovering its hidden meaning (Wilkinson, Richard, p.10).
This amulet / scepter has the shape of an 'ankh'-sign (see Appendix 1), an object with a shape resembling a cross, but with a loop instead of the top arm. It was used in ancient Egypt as a symbol of life and immortality. Like other traditional Egyptian symbols, this kind of amulets were commonly used by ancient Nubian kings (British Museum), and Egyptian gods are often portrayed as carrying one in the hands.
This particular scepter was initially discovered in a temple that was intended for purposes other than commemoration of the dead, which makes it distinct. In addition, the relatively small size (3.6 centimeters high, 11 centimeters wide, 2.5 centimeters deep and weighing only 0.32 kilograms (British Museum)) in addition to the absence of any mechanism for suspension, suggests that it was intended to be carried on an individual (Strudwick, Nigel, pp.280-281).
Moreover, records suggest that this scepter was probably imported into Nubia and came from the Temple of Taharqo, one of the most important kings of this dynasty (c. 770-657) in the capital of the ancient kingdom Nubian kingdom Napata (British Museum). Purchased by the British Museum from Lord Kitchener’s collection who in according to an entry in “Gifts of the Nile” purchased it in 1919 from a Mohammed Ahasi in Sudan, this can however not be true as Kitchener died in 1916 (British Museum).
The design of this amulet, in the context of its symbolic and religious importance, speaks of the benefits that will be revealed to its owner in the form of endless life and power to control. These benefits are revealed by the four hieroglyphic symbols that form the scepter.
In addition to being the shape of an ‘ankh’ sign, there are three other raised hieroglyphic symbols carved onto this scepter. The first and most important aspect of symbolism in this amulet is obviously the ‘Anhk’ itself, which represents eternal life.
The amulet is also decorated with the Egyptian ‘djed’ symbol which represents stability, endurance or permanence and the the ‘was’ symbol, which takes the shape of a scepter rod and in the hands of the Egyptian gods it symbolized (divine) domination and control. Finally, it contains the "heh” hieroglyph which represents the Egyptian god Heh who in turn symbolized infinity, although the hieroglyph itself simply meant the number one million. Holding traditional, symbolic, and religious significance, the scepter symbolizes immortality and endless ruling power; domination for millions of years (Quirke, Stephen …