Amulet of Khnum

Blue-green faience amulet depicting the god Khnum or Amun. In ancient Egypt the ram was revered for its procreative abilities and as a symbol of virility. Its cult has been attested since the beginning of Egyptian civilization. The amulet in the shape of a ram, or part of it, spread widely between 664-525 BC, although some attestations date back to the Predynastic Period.

During the Late Period of Egypt, the Amulet of Khnum continued to hold significance as a symbol of the deity Khnum. Khnum was revered as the creator god who shaped humans and controlled the Nile’s annual flooding.

Statuette of the god Khnum
Amulet of the god Khnum or Amun

Ancient Egyptians were strongly influenced by the environment around them and the natural forces could find expression in a divine creature. For example Khnum, a ram-headed god, was associated with the Nile and the creation of life.

The ram was associated with different deities: Khnum in Elephantine, Amun in Thebes, Heryshaf in Heracleopolis and Banebdjedet in Mendes. Moreover, it was one of the four animal representations of the sun together with the hawk, the lion and the bull.

Linked mainly to the island of Elephantine, which was a natural border between Egypt and Nubia, he could control the flooding of the river from the caves in that region.

Amulet of the god Khnum
Amulet of the god Khnum

Khnum often depicted in front of a wheel, shaping a child. His association with the Nile and the fertile ground that “emerges” as the waters retreat may have contributed to his image as a potter, able to shape all the things on his wheel.

The amulet, typically crafted from materials like faience or precious metals, served as a protective charm and a representation of Khnum’s creative powers. It was commonly worn or placed in tombs as a means of ensuring divine protection and guidance in the afterlife.

Late Period, 26th Dynasty to 30th Dynasty, ca. 664-332 BC. Blue green faience. Dimensions: 7.5 x 2 x 3 cm. Now in the Egyptian Museum of Turin. Cat. 489