Ancient Egyptian amulet, backbone (Djed), 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'. Asociated with the gods Ptah and Osiris, the Djed pillar was a common amulet believed to represent stability and durability and was used to protect the dead in the afterlife.