THE Ancient Egyptians are known to have worn magical amulets and talismans as as rings, necklaces and bracelets ... but now, for the first time, archaeologists have discovered two mummified bodies wearing magical copper toe rings.
The bodies were found only 20 km south of Antinoopolis, though they pre-date the city of Antinous by centuries.
One of the two, a man who lived more than 3,300 years ago and died around the age of 35-40, was buried in textile and plant-stem matting and a copper alloy toe ring on his right foot.
Researchers believe that he likely wore the ring while he was still alive, and not that it was added as a death amulet.
They note that he suffered a number of injuries during his lifetime, including several broken ribs and fractures of his left radius, right ulna, right foot and right femur. So the ring was likely a magical aid in healing these injuries.
The copper alloy ring shown here was found on the second toe of the man's right foot, the same foot that suffered a fracture when he was alive. His right femur was also fractured and never healed properly causing him great pain.
That man's mummified skeleton was found in 2011. In 2012, archaeologists found a second individual with a copper alloy ring originally on one of their toes. The gender of that person is undetermined.
Both skeletons were found in a cemetery just south of the ancient city of Akhetaten, whose name means "Horizon of the Aten."
The ruined ancient city of Akhetaten is located a scant 20 km south of Antinoopolis, the sacred city built on the site where Antinous died in the Nile in 130 AD.
The archaeologists firmly believe the copper rings were intended to be magical medical aids to the wearers. They may well have been "prescribed" by physicians.
The Ancient Egyptians made no distinction between religion, magic and science. That split began with Christianity in its bid to crush paganism by denouncing magic as "demon witchcraft."
And it was cemented by the Age of Reason which split off science (medicine, etc.) from religion.
But the Ancients viewed religion/magic/science as one whole. The Ancient Priests of Antinous were men of religion, but they were also men of science and they were magicians.
If you came to the temple with a broken arm and contusions, they would sterilize the wound and set the bone and apply healing poultices as any modern-day physician would.
But they would also say prayers to bless the medicaments and they would wrap the splint in bandages which were sealed with magical incantations written in iodine-like ink to keep out evil spirits.
They would prescribe a magico-medico-religious drink to kill the pain.
A magical ring or other amulet would be embued with the healing energies of the god to enhance the healing process.
To an Ancient Priest of Antinous, our modern practice of just getting the bone set and splint and taking a pain killer would be barbaric. It might heal the fracture.
But they would consider it woefully inadequate all-around health care.
They would call modern doctors well-meaning but dangerous quacks.