Egyptian, Classical, Ancient Near Eastern Art
The sema-hieroglyph, used in the words “unification,” “to unite,” and their derivatives, represents an animal’s lungs and windpipe. As such, the shape of this sign frequently appears in Egyptian art in scenes of the king uniting the two lands of Upper and Lower Egypt. As an amulet, the sema-hieroglyph ensured a unified corpse, integral to one’s survival in the afterlife.
The customary choice of dark stone for this amulet refers to the darkness of the night sky and the fertile silt of the Nile’s inundation (or annual flooding)—the sources of the daily rebirth of the sun and the yearly regeneration of nature.
XXVI Dynasty or later
This item is not on view
Gift of Evangeline Wilbour Blashfield, Theodora Wilbour, and Victor Wilbour honoring the wishes of their mother, Charlotte Beebe Wilbour, as a memorial to their father Charles Edwin Wilbour
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Lungs-and-Windpipe Amulet, 664-332 B.C. Obsidian, 1 5/16 x 1/2 in. (3.4 x 1.3 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Evangeline Wilbour Blashfield, Theodora Wilbour, and Victor Wilbour honoring the wishes of their mother, Charlotte Beebe Wilbour, as a memorial to their father Charles Edwin Wilbour, 16.580.60. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, CUR.16.580.60_bodyparts.jpg)
installation, Body Parts Installation (2009), CUR.16.580.60_bodyparts.jpg
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