Ancient Egyptian amulet, heart-shaped stone, 4000-30 BC.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
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. 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'. Early Egyptian physicians were not trained in medicine and used amulets, spells and other magic to cure patients. Amulets were made of all parts of the body and were offered to the gods in prayers for healing. Heart shaped amulets were worn for health and buried with the dead.