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Fernand Braudel

The God Horus in the shape of a falcon

Probably New Kingdom about 1550-1069 BC

This amulet was probably made from a sheet of gold cut then stamped into shape. The precious metal, that the Egyptians equated with the flesh of the gods, was abundant in Nubia.

The amulet represents the god Horus in the form of a falcon, facing left (right on the photograph) and placed on a flat pedestal. He wears the double crown symbolizing the union of Upper and Lower Egypt. This type of object had prophylactic purposes. Such amulets were often placed on the mummy between the bandages.

The falcon, now tamed and very popular in the Middle East for his hunting skills, was considered the king of heaven by the Egyptians. Ancient texts mention that the enemy felt paralyzed before the pharaoh “like other birds are in the presence of a falcon”. It becomes a symbol of kingship in Egypt, as was the eagle, another predatory bird, for the civilizations of the northern Mediterranean. Gliding very high in the sky and closer to the sun, the falcon was also regarded as the incarnation of several deities. The most famous being named Horus. Under this name there existed several deities: the god of the sky who, associated with Re, becoming a sun god, and Horus the son of Isis and Osiris. He was also the protector of the pharaoh and the unifier of Egypt.

Horus was especially revered in Nubia where shrines and stelae were dedicated to him in no fewer than four local forms: Horus of Miâm, Baki, Buhen and Meha. Later, under Roman rule, Horus was featured in the form of a falcon-headed horseman known as “Legionary Horus”. It has become customary to consider the iconography of Christian saints riding horses which owes much to such a representation. A good example of Horus rider with his spear piercing a crocodile is in the Louvre Museum. The name of the god, ‘Hor’ in Egyptian, appears frequently in anthroponyms until Roman times.

see also