Scaraboid Hedgehog Amulet
Scaraboid amulet of a cute little hedgehog. Hedgehogs were common on amulets in the New Kingdom (1500s–1000s BC) and can also be seen on the backs of seals and scaraboids.
Although never very common, hedgehog amulets have a long history in ancient Egypt, with their popularity peaking in the New Kingdom. These amulets functioned as rebirth symbols, although the reason for this use is not apparent today.
The significance of the hedgehog has multiple theories. As a hibernating animal, it may have associated with the powers of self-renewal and resurrection. Another lies in the animal’s defensive strategy of inflating itself into a ball and projecting its spines, a posture of obvious apotropaic significance. Lastly, Egyptian folklore maintained that hedgehog amulets provided protection against snake bites, a belief grounded in the animal’s natural resistance to poison.
The Egyptians were impressed by this small mammal since the Predynastic Period because of its ability to live in extreme environmental conditions.
The hedgehog is mainly active at night, and is endowed with particularly acute eyesight; protected by its quills, the animal lives in semi-desert areas, bordering on inhospitable lands, considered to be places of death; it also hunts snakes and scorpions, whose poison it is able to resist.
Its nocturnal activity meant that it was associated with the nocturnal race of the sun before its rebirth, and it was therefore seen as triumphant over dangers and death and therefore a symbol of rebirth.
Third Intermediate Period, 22nd-23rd Dynasty, ca. 943-716 BC. Made of Egyptian faience. Dimensions: 1,35 cm 2,08 cm 1,3 cm. Now in the Louvre. AF 2302