The Middle Kingdom, truly to me, happens to be one of the most fascinating times of ancient Egyptian history after reading and watching the lecture videos. It was the time of relative prosperity, general peace and long reigning kings. The Middle Kingdom was also a time when trade, arts, and material in general flourished. Amongst material culture, I was fascinated by the extreme use of magical amulets as a decorum in the application of divine symbolism. Amulets have been used since the Predynastic times but underwent an extreme increase of use during the Middle Kingdom. Why the sudden change? Could it have been because of socio-economic and political changes that were taking place? Maybe, since many amulets and emblems pertained to the “after-life” it was a coping mechanism? I don’t know but it’s interesting to see the different forms of emblems they used, for instance, we all have learned about the eye of Horus (if you don’t, essentially it is the symbol of protection, royal power and good health), but another one that I have never heard of is called, Djed pillar or the back bone of Osiris. It is associated with Osiris because it’s a mythological symbol dealing with the afterlife, the underworld and the dead (a bit morbid). Ancient Egyptians fascination with death and preparing for death is intriguing. They were surrounded with death so emblems such as these was a way, to me, to become comfortable with the idea of death. Yet, it’s interesting that during the Middle Kingdom, a time of peace (somewhat) that the use of emblems would be on the rise.
With the increase of using amulets and emblems it make me wonder what else was rapidly increasing or being constructed. I researched into this and found that the pharaohs of the 12th through 18th Dynasties were credited with preserving mathematical and medical discoveries that were preserved on dozens of ancient Egyptian papyri.
If you would like more information on these the link is below and you can look into the collection.