Four eye-beads, c 1300 BC.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Eye-beads, of which there are several varieties, were created as early as 1300 BC. They are used as amulets for averting the evil eye and are still used today in Near-Eastern and Mediterranean countries for the same purpose. These examples are part of a collection of twelve beads of Egyptian and Roman-Egyptian origin. An amulet is a personal ornament which, because of its shape, material, or colour, is believed to endow its wearer with certain powers or capabilities and offer protection from evil or illnes. The Ancient Egyptians often used amulets to protect themselves against disease. The Egyptian words for 'amulet' come primarily from words meaning 'to guard' or 'protect' and also 'well being'.