Egypt, Late Dynastic Period, 26th to 31st Dynasty, ca. 664 to 332 BCE. An attractive and rare example of a two-finger amulet carved from black obsidian exhibiting smooth, age-commensurate surface wear. The slender amulet features the index and middle fingers of a right hand with delineated nail beds, characteristic wrinkles on the top and bottom of each knuckle, and rounded fingertips that are smooth to the touch. Two-finger amulets like this example were used exclusively on deceased bodies meant for mummification. They were typically placed along the lower left side of the abdomen where the incision was made to remove the internal organs, and the amulet itself was meant as a symbolic means of 'healing' the corpse's wound, perhaps by the embalmer himself. Typical examples are carved from darker stones like slate, so intact obsidian examples are of exceedingly scarce! Size: 3.1" L x 1" W (7.9 cm x 2.5 cm)
Included is a late 19th century museum label ticket to which the amulet was attached. The obverse reads, "Archaeological Institute. August 1. Excursion to Brougham Hall, 8c. Carriage Ticket. No. 69," and the reverse reads, "Finger amulet found within viscera of mummies." The faded outline of the two-finger amulet is still visible on one side of the ticket.
Cf. The British Museum, museum number EA59500
Cf. an example carved from slate at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, accession number 10.130.1811
An obsidian example of a larger size hammered for $81,250 at Christie's, New York "Antiquities" auction (Live auction 3748, June 4, 2015, lot 9)
This piece has been searched against the Art Loss Register database and has been cleared. The Art Loss Register maintains the world's largest database of stolen art, collectibles, and antiques.
Provenance: private Toronto, Ontario, Canada collection, by descent, acquired in Egypt in 1894 to 1896
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Surface abrasions, wear, and clouding commensurate with age, with minor chips to a few areas, and very small nicks to tips of nail beds, otherwise intact and excellent. Great remains of incised detailing, and wonderful surface smoothness throughout.