Ancient Egyptians thought ”green magic” would keep child mummies healthy in afterlife

February 6th, 2009 - 1:46 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, Feb 6 (ANI): The discovery of a rare mummified child with a bright green amulet stone, once thought to hold magical powers, has led scientist to believe that the ancient Egyptians thought that the colour green would protect their child from unwanted influence and to be healthy in its afterlife
The finding could also help explain why hieroglyphics and historical texts record that Egyptian children wore green eye makeup.
Also, it revealed that ancient Egyptians once believed to hold magical powers thought colour itself held sacred energy that could help or hurt individuals.
Lead author Raffaella Bianucci explained that the first Egyptian coloured amulets occurred as early as the predynastic Badarian period, from 4500 to 3800 B.C.
The recently analysed child mummy, containing the remains of a 15- to 18-month-old toddler, dates to 4,700 years ago.
“Even in limited forms and materials, these earliest amulets give a good indication of the dangerous forces that the early Egyptians felt were present in their world and needed to be harnessed by magical means,” Discovery News quoted Bianucci, a scientist in the Department of Animal and Human Biology at Via Accademia Albertina in Turin, Italy, as saying.
Firstly, the researchers examined the child’’s remains, which were wrapped in linen bandages, and immunological evidence determined that the youngster died from an acute malarial infection.
They then noticed a fossilized leather bag tied with linen twine, which was wrapped in the bandages with the mummy, and found two stones in it.
They focused on a bright green stone, which was found poking through the fossilized leather, and analysed it with powerful X-rays, as well as scanning electron microscope.
It was found that the stone was chrysocolla, or hydrated copper silica, which is still valued as an ornamental stone that, in its bluer forms, is sometimes confused with turquoise.
Bianucci said that malachite was a more common green mineral in early Egypt, since chrysocolla ores were limited to very few in the Sinai and the Eastern Egyptian Desert.
However, chrysocolla may have been special for children, as archaeologists previously unearthed a small figure of a child made of the green material in another grave.
“In ancient Egypt, colour was an integral part of the substance and being of everything in life,” she said.
She further explained that green, the colour of new vegetation and growing crops, including the treasured papyrus plant, was linked to health and “flourishing.”
Also, she observed that chapter 30 of the ”Book of the Dead”, an ancient Egyptian funerary text, revealed that a scarab beetle amulet be made of green minerals and placed at the heart of mummies.
On the basis of such records, red was the colour of life and victory, white suggested omnipotence and purity, black was a symbol of death and the night, blue symbolized life and rebirth and yellow was thought to be eternal and indestructible, like the sun and gold.
Talking of the child mummy’’s green amulet, she said: “We can hypothesize that (the parents) wished their child to be protected from unwanted influence and to be healthy in its afterlife.”
The study will be published in the March issue of the Journal of Archaeological Science. (ANI)

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