Amulet of the god 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 ram was associated with different deities: Khnum in Elephantine, Amun in Thebes, Herishef in Herakelopolis 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. The amulet in the shape of a ram, or part of it, spread widely between 664-525 BC, although some attestations date back to Predynastic Period.

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.

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. Khnum often depicted in front of a wheel, shaping a child.┬áHis 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.

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