Image: Amulet of Djed Pillar (De Vito Halevy, 2017; Courtesy of the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology, UC38606).


Amulet: Green faience amulet of Djed Pillar with developed top and flattened back. UC38606 - Petrie Museum.

Origin: Late Period. Location and coffin owner unknown. Possibly from Amarna, Egypt.

Material: Green faience.


  • Height: 9.41 cm
  • Length at bars: 2.27 cm
  • Width at bars: 1.05 cm

Conditions: Well-preserved, no broken edges, however decay visible on side of pillar.

Djed Pillar 2.jpg.1




Image: Amulet of Djed Pillar (De Vito Halevy, 2017; Courtesy of the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology, UC38606).

Fired clay mould for production of faience Djed sign. (UCL Petrie Museum Online Catalogue, 2017).

About the Object

Amulet refers to "anything worn about the person as a charm or preventive against evil, mischief, disease, witchcraft, etc." (Oxford English Dictionary). However, Egyptian amulets were also placed on the coffins of the deceased, as was the case for this particular one noticable for its flattened back. The symbol of the Djed Pillar can be considered as part of the 'Amulets of Powers' which provide the powers of qualities, circumstances or authority (Quirke, 2000). The specific powers for the Djed varied from representing fertility through the Tree of Life; playing as a social actor in the Ceremony of 'Raising the Djed Pillar', which signified potency and duration of the monarchy; but most commonly and of longest historical meaning, it was a form of protection for a deceased body by representing stability through Osiris - God of the after-life, the underworld and of the dead (Crystal, 2017).

Representation of Death

1) Resurrection - Escapism from Death

This amulet would be placed near the spines of mummified bodies and commonly its image painted on the coffin. The intent was to allow the deceased to live eternally and ensure their resurrection through the symbolism of balance and stability by Osiris' backbone. As the amulet was placed on the mummy, a spell would be spoken from the Egyptian Book of the Dead to help the deceased regain the use of their spine. Such representation was of utmost religious significance to the Ancient Egyptians (Brown, 2002). In fact, it is often seen in hieroglyphic inscriptions and upon architectural structures.

Additionally, the ritual of 'Raising the Djed Pillar', also known as the 'Renewal Festival', represented the resurrection of Osiris, who had been killed and scattered into pieces by his brother Set (Brown, 2002). Again, relating to the Egyptian belief in Resurrection and escapism from death.

2) Overcoming Death of the Egyptian Civilization - Symbol of Cultural Memory

The Amulet of Djed Pillar, as an object, provides evidence and is a symbol of cultural memory of one of the most historically important dynasties of all time. As an amulet of power, it has the potency to be given meanings by the social lives around it and, simultaneously, powerfully maintain history by acting as a cultural artifact and an object of value. From symbol of religious significance and reason for festive gathering to historical interest and public engagement, the Djed Pillar overcomes death through time. 

Representation of Innovation

Material Innovation during the Late Period - Faience

Faience refers to a fine lead glaze applied onto an earthenware body and impressed onto a mold to take on a particular shape, such as that of the Djed. It does not contain clay, instead, the major component is silica, similar to glass. The material was intended to resemble precious stones, such as turquoise or lapis lazuli (Piquette, 2009). In fact, faience was usually reserved for the wealthy and nobility, as the poor Egyptian could only afford a Shabti doll (funerary amulets) made of wood, for exampleAfter initial stone working methods in the Third Intermediate Period (c. 1069 - 664 BCE), faience production flourished in the Late Period (c. 664 – 332 BCE) with mass-production of the highest quality. Most of the surviving amulets belonging to the Petrie Museum, of which this particular amulet is from, in fact date back to this era (Quirke, 2000). Faience commonly constituted Scarabs (another form of amulet), Shabti, and most forms of jewlery as the glaze was smooth on skin (Piquette, 2009). Interestingly, the color of faience was thought to have special symbolism, such as blue to reflect the river Nile and represent after-life; green for re-birth; red for protection. The close association of faience to Egyptian after-life can be seen in the walls of tombs as they were made of this material, such as in the notorious tomb of Tutankhamun (Mark, 2010).


3D Petrie Museum, (2009). From Egypt to the World. [online] Available at:

Brown, V. (2002). The Djed Pillar and the Body of Asar - the God of Resurrection. [online] Available at:

Crystal, E. (2017). Djed. [online] Available at:

Piquette, K. (2009). History of Egyptian Faience. [online] Available at:

Quirke, S. (2000). Amulets. [online] Digital Egypt for Universities. Available at:

Quirke, S. (2000). Faience. [online] Digital Egypt for Universities. Available at:  

Djed Pillar compared to Osiris' backbone (Brown, 2002)

Narrative Video