Ear

By
Kierra Foley
Kierra Foley is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of Chicago, studying Egyptian Art and Archaeology in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations. She graduated with a B.A. in Near Eastern Studies and the History of Art from Johns Hopkins in 2014. During her time at JHU, she worked as an undergraduate collections assistant at the Johns Hopkins Archaeological Museum.

2034_D

Accession number: 2034 D

Measurements: Length: 3.19 cm; Width: 2.05 cm; Thickness: 0.61 cm

Material: Egyptian Faience

Date: 18th-25th Dynasty, ca. 1550-656 BCE

Provenance: Hathor Shrine, Deir el-Bahari, Thebes, Egypt

Collection: James Teackle Dennis Collection of Egyptian Antiquities

Description

This bright blue faience amulet takes the shape of a human ear. Areas of loss on the front and sides of the amulet reveal the brown core of the faience.

Discussion

Amulets in the form of a human ear were extremely common during the 18th Dynasty (ca. 1550-1295 BCE). These amulets most commonly served a votive function as “hearing ears.” A votive offering, loosely defined, is a sacred gift presented (often in a confessional space) in honor of a deity or as a personalized message to a deity. These so-called “hearing ears” were meant to encourage a deity to hear and consequently answer a dedicant’s plea. Votive stelae (round-topped plaques) with decorative ear motifs could serve a similar function.

This particular “hearing ear” was likely an offering to the bovine goddess of love and joy, Hathor. Amulets of this type dedicated to Hathor were found en masse found at Deir el-Bahari, a Theban necropolis and cultic center of Hathor that was greatly important during the New Kingdom (ca. 1550-1069 BCE).

References

Andrews, Carol, 1994. Amulets of Ancient Egypt. Austin: University of Texas. 69.

Pinch, Geraldine, 1993. Votive Offerings to Hathor. Oxford: Griffith Institute, Ashmolean Museum.

Teeter, Emily, 2011. Religion and Ritual in Ancient Egypt. Cambridge: University Press. 89.