Amulet of Nefertem

  • Egypt
  • Third Intermediate period
  • 1069 - about 715 B.C.
  • Silver
  • H-15.3 D-7 W-3.4
Catalogue Entry

Nefertem was the primeval lotus flower upon which the young sun god rose above the waters of chaos at the beginning of creation. Early texts refer to him as "Nefertem, who is at the nose of Re [the sun god]." As the son of the creator-god Ptah and the lion-headed goddess Sekhmet, Nefertem formed the junior member of the divine triad of the city of Memphis. He appears here striding, left foot advanced, arms hanging at his sides. His tripartite wig and long, plaited wig are those of a god; the ureaus (rearing cobra) on his brow and the short kilt with central tab in front are kingly attributes. The lotus flower on his head, supported in traditional fashion by two menats, or necklace counterpoises, proclaims his identity.

A deity so closely connected with creation and the solar cycle, with its promise of regeneration and rebirth, was an ideal amulet.1 This exquisite example, of solid cast silver, is provided with a loop in the back for suspension.

1. Andrews 1994, pp. 18-19.