Wedjat, Eye of Horus
Amulets were buried in and around the mummy bandages to provide it with protection against different types of potential dangers after death. The Eye of Horus (or 'Wedjat Eye') was a famous amulet which was used as a symbol of protection from evil. Since magic was largely prevalent in Ancient times, healing amulets ─especially the 'Wedjat Eye') ─ played an important role in curing people. In Ancient Egyptian legends, it is said that there had been a fight between Seth and Horus because the former had killed the latter's father, Osiris. In this combat, Seth had damaged Horus' eyes, but Thoth, the god of wisdom, healed them then used one of the cured eyes to revive Osiris. Based on this account, the eye of Horus became a powerful healing amulet. So important was the eye's influence over the time: the origin of the Rx abbreviation, that doctors use all over the world, and in all languages, originated from the shape of the eye of Horus.
Ancient Egyptians described what we currently known as “medical semiology”, since to them an organized physical examination were central for medical work. They used, as we do, medical maneuvers such as inspection, palpation and auscultation in order to obtain information from the patient's body. Although they did not conceive our current concepts of disease, they used the concept of syndromes, i.e. a group of signs and symptoms that delineate a recognizable pattern. They also identified some signs as markers of severe physical compromise, such as truisms, neck stiffness, weak pulse, etc.
Since they had understood the central role of some organs ─such as the heart and the kidney─ in the mummification process they did not remove these organs which they considered vital for re-incarnation. Because these organs were considered so vital, if they were damaged before mummification or during this procedure, they had to be replaced by a beetle-shaped amulet. Since this object was supposed to replace magically the absent organ, we can consider this as the first attempt “to replace a vital human organ by an artificial device”.
One of the most widely worn protective amulets was the Wedjat Eye, the restored eye of Horus. Worn by the living, this amulet often appeared on rings and as an element of necklaces. It was also placed on the body of the deceased during the mummification process to protect the incision through which the internal organs were removed.
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