Amulet

2nd century-3rd century (made)

Unknown

Height: 9.53 cm

486-1891 CER

Moulded amulet in the form of the head of Hercules, Egypt, 2nd-3rd century AD.

Moulded, turquoise-green glazed head of Hercules wearing the lion skin.

Amulets were meant to protect the owner from evil. This amulet takes the form of the head of Hercules, one of the most famous heroes of Classical mythology. In Egypt during the Roman period (30 BC-AD 639), Hercules was a symbol of power as well as of protection during times of war. The turquoise glaze on this amulet was popular in the pre-Islamic Middle East. In Egypt, turquoise was associated with good fortune as the colour of the life-giving River Nile. Under Islam, the lucky associations of the blue-green colour persisted in an informal way.

Bought by the Museum from WM Flinders-Petrie, for 12l. 6s, together with museum numbers 440 to 559-1891 inclusive From Kom-Wushim or Rubaiyat, north-east of the Fayum, Middle Egypt.

Location: Islamic Middle East, room 42, case 1W

View this object on the V&A website