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Ancient Egyptian Gold Bastet Amulet

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One of the ancient Egyptian antiquities which has captivated me recently is an absolutely exquisite Egyptian gold Bastet amulet dating from the New Kingdom Period, c. 1550-1070 BC. It’s infinitesimally small and features a seated cat that is barely a centimetre high. It’s just half a gram of gold in weight. It still has black tar-like traces of bitumen embalming fluid on it perhaps from being buried with a mummy. Amazingly, the amulet can stand on its integral flat base on a tabletop unlike modern pendants.

Bastet was the Egyptian cat goddess of the home, domesticity, women's secrets, cats, fertility, and childbirth. She protected the home from evil spirits and disease, especially diseases associated with women and children. The gold amulets are far too small to be showcased which is why they’re being sold as museum rejects from the 1920s. Wealthy industrialists were inspired by the discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb in the 1920s to become amateur collectors of Egyptian antiquities. The gold cat amulets might have been sold to well-off pilgrims worshipping at the Temple of Bubastis.

I’m totally baffled how ancient Egyptian artisans could create anything so infinitesimally small and anatomically perfect without the aid of a magnifying lens. Modern goldsmiths would struggle to create such tiny gold objects even with a microscope. Regrettably, I had to give the beautiful gold Bastet amulet a miss after I realised that there was no place where I would be able to store such a tiny object without losing it. I sometimes wonder if what Egyptologists think of as genuine Egyptian antiquities might be cleverly contrived fakes from the 1920s. The artistry of some Egyptian antiquities is truly astounding.

Ron C2:
pics or it never happened.


--- Quote from: Ron C2 on February 26, 2021, 09:59:26 pm ---pics or it never happened.

--- End quote ---

Thank Bastet! The images downloaded! I don’t know whether I should forget my regrets and snap up the amulet before someone else does. I’ve got this theory that those Egyptian cat amulets without holes punched in the suspension loops like this one were being used as votive offerings by pilgrims at the Temple of Bubastis comparable to Christian votive candles. Alternatively, they might have been reserved for burial with mummies or the holes intentionally blocked after the amulet wearers died.

For anyone interested in ancient Egyptian amulets, I highly recommend the informative book 'Amulets of Ancient Egypt' (London, 1994) by Carol Andrews. I own a copy of the book myself which is illustrated throughout with beautiful photos.

UPDATE: The good news is that I finally caved in to the irresistible charms of the cat-goddess Bastet and bought the exquisite Egyptian Bastet amulet. The statuette is cast in solid gold and depicts the feline goddess with remarkable anatomical accuracy in her traditional ‘hieroglyphic’ seated zoomorphic cat-form with the tail always wrapped around its right side along the paws. The goddess sits erect on a sub-rectangular base and has a blocked suspension loop to the nape of her neck. The amulet weighs in at just 0.5g and is a mere 0.8cm (1/4") high. The seller was kind enough to supply gratis one of those floating coin and gem holders with a silicone membrane when I expressed my fears about how I could store my first tiny antiquity.


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