Egyptian obsidian two finger amulet
Late Dynastic Period, 25th-31st Dynasty, 715-332 BC
Height: 5 cm
Provenance: Collection of Geoffrey Metz (Egyptologist) Uppsala, Sweden (an old collection number in white ink on the bottom edge)
The two fingers (broken below the second knuckle) held close together, details of nails and joints incised. This is example is particularly fine, the profile almost flat.
The significance of such amulets is not certain, but it is thought they might represent the embalmer's fingers, to reconfirm the mummification process and to protect the embalming incision. Obsidian, often called volcanic glass, was most notably used for the two finger amulet. Not naturally occurring in Egypt, its probable source was Ethiopia.
Literature: A cruder example from the British Museum is illustrated in Carol Andrews, 'Amulets of Ancient Egypt' (London, 1994) p. 70, fig. 70e. A fine jadeite amulet can be seen in Peter Lacovara and Betsy Teasley Trope with Sue H. D'Auria, (Eds.), The Collector's Eye, Masterpieces of Egyptian Art from the Thalassic Collection, Ltd. Courtesy of Theodore and Aristea Halkedis, Atlanta 2001, p.122, no.72.