New Kingdom, c. 1550-1069 BC. Egyptian. Stone amulet in the shape of a stela with a tilapia fish on one side. The rear side of the stela is decorated with a line around the border, within which is an ankh surrounded by two uraei. The ankh was the hieroglyph for life, and the uraei were fire spitting cobras that acted as guardians, so this is an invocation to protect life. Above this is a was sceptre of power and the tyet knot of Isis. This does not write out a word or sentence, but instead values the signs as individual symbols rather than characters. The tilapia fish was associated with rebirth in the afterlife because it carries around its eggs in its mouth, leading people to assume it was self-regenerating.
Size: L:21mm / W:16mm ; 4g
Provenance: From a private London collection; acquired on the UK art market in the 1960s/70s.