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Tempio Leon Battista Alberti


Amulets were small objects whose function was to protect against disease, misfortune and the attacks of evil demons.

They were often linked to the concept of the fertility of the earth and man in connection with water, an essential element for life; thus amulets depicting frogs, (No. 13) geese, ducks (No. 12), the latter also later used as weights, are frequent.

Precisely because the country’s economy depended on the welfare of cattle and sheep, amulets frequently depict these animals, along with many others, including rams, bulls, lambs, boars, bears, mastiffs (n.8 -1 – 15).

Particularly interesting is the two-sided bronze amulet of the demon Pazuzu depicted in his double aspect (No. 9); although ‘king of the evil wind demons’, Pazuzu was considered benevolent, as he protected women in labour and newborns from the attacks of his arch-enemy Lamashtu; it was therefore a good omen to wear an amulet of Pazuzu during pregnancy and childbirth. Possibly from the Ptolemaic or Roman period is the frog-shaped glass amulet (no. 13), the base of which is engraved with the image of a woman in the position adopted during childbirth: this is probably an amulet that protected women during pregnancy and childbirth. The frog, very popular in Mesopotamia, had great fortune in Egypt, from where these amulets may have originated.

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Other Works of art from this Exhibition

Brick fragment

Cuneiform tablet

Figurine head with crown