The Pendants of the Twenty-Second Dynasty, Egypt

Pendant; amulet; cylindrical box, -943 / -731 (XXII dynasty). Louvre Museum, room 317 on level 0 of the Sully wing. © Rama / CC BY-SA 3.0 EN.

by Andréas Stauder

The two pendants from the Twenty-Second Dynasty of Egypt once contained protective papyri; the cases themselves and are inscribed with words spoken by Amun-Re and Isis the Great.

These two gold pendant tubes, dating from the Twenty-Second Dynasty (945 to 715 BCE), reproduce a type of talisman containing a piece of inscribed papyrus intended to protect its wearer. The cases are inscribed respectively:

Words spoken by “Amun-Re, king of the gods, perfect god, lord of the sky”:

‘He has provided perfect protection for Chaqa, the justified one’

Words spoken by by “Isis the great, mother of the god, who resides in Coptos”:

‘May she guard Chaqa, the justified one.’ 

As the name indicates, the beneficiary, Chaqa (the vowels are unknown; the “a” is inserted by convention), was of Libyan descent. The non-Egyptian origin of the person is also reflected in the writing itself, through a particular type of spelling used to transcribe foreign names, as well as through the throw stick sign (the curved vertical sign in front of the seated man). This latter sign, which is not pronounced, marks the name as foreign.

The Twenty-Second Dynasty of Egypt is made up of kings of Libyan descent, based in the Delta, in northern Egypt. These kings maintained some Libyan traits (for example, the insistence on long genealogies and various political traditions) but were otherwise fully integrated into Egyptian culture, which they claimed as their own. The pendant illustrates this background in its own way: by containing a text attributed to Egyptian gods and inscribed in hieroglyphic writing, for the benefit of an individual whose foreign ancestry is in no way concealed.

Ancient Egypt and the lands to its west maintained contact since prehistoric times. They are evident, for example, in Libyan loanwords which entered the Ancient Egyptian language at various times (words were undoubtedly borrowed also in the opposite sense). At an even older level, Ancient Egyptian and the present-day languages ​​of the Berber (Amazigh) group are genetically related since they belong to the same so-called “Afro-Asiatic” family. Besides the Egyptian-Coptic group and the Berber (Amazigh) group, this vast family also includes Semitic ​​(such as Arabic, Hebrew or Akkadian), Cushitic ​​(such as Oromo in Ethiopia) and Chadic (such as Hausa in Chad) languages.

The end of the fourth millennium BCE saw the emergence of Egyptian writing and the development of an increasingly refined visual culture, both used to showcase the consolidating royal power. Despite an appearance of stability, Egyptian writing continued to evolve over the millennia of its history. The reasons are numerous: the diversification and evolution of social and cultural contexts, changes affecting the Ancient Egyptian language it transcribed, and the ideological transformation which defined the roles and status of writing.

Egyptian writing manifests itself in various forms. Hieroglyphic writing (illustrated by the pendant in question) is used on permanent objects and associated with sacralizing functions. Hieratic, a cursive which developed from 2800 BCE on, is the most commonly used script, including in the texts of practice (letters, contracts, accounts, administration), in the texts of knowledge (medico-religious, ritual, mathematical) and to write down literature. Demotic, which developed from 650 BCE on, presents an additional degree of cursiveness.

All these scripts are complex and combine phonetic signs (signs standing for sounds) with semographic signs (signs standing for words and/or meanings). Coptic, a more recent stage of the Egyptian language, was written using the Greek alphabet augmented by seven Demotic signs. The radical change in the writing system accompanies a no less radical change at the cultural level, with, in particular, the adoption of the Christian religion. The objects are 5.8 cm high, with a diameter of 1.4 cm. The signs are incised in gold using a point and a tool serving as a hammer. The cases are currently on display at the Louvre Museum, in room 317 on level 0 of the Sully wing.

Andréas Stauder, Director of Studies at EPHE – PSL, Chair of Egyptian

Andréas Stauder studied ancient Near Eastern languages ​​and civilizations at the University of Geneva (Egyptology, Assyriology, Biblical Hebrew, Sanskrit) and, in parallel, musical composition at the Conservatoire Supérieur de Musique de Genève (Composition Prize, 2001).

After a doctorate in Egyptology at the University of Basel (2007) and post-doctorates in Chicago and Basel, he was elected Director of Studies of EPHE – PSL and Chair of Egyptian in 2014.

Andréas Stauder is scientific editor of the “Language, Writing, Text” section of the UCLA Encyclopedia of Egyptology. His work focuses on Egyptian-Coptic linguistics, Egyptian scripts (early developments, visual aspects), Middle Egyptian poetry, and the history of written speech in Egypt in the 3rd and 2nd millennia BC.

For further information

File from the Louvre museum dedicated to the object.

Video by Andréas Stauder devoted to hieroglyphic writing throughout history, as part of the Writing Systems in the Ancient World themed talks of ILARA.



Cite this blog post
ILARA (2023, January 3). The Pendants of the Twenty-Second Dynasty, Egypt. ILARA, the Institute for Linguistic Heritage and Diversity. Retrieved February 29, 2024, from https://doi.org/10.58079/q3ap

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