Ancient Egyptians may have used a newly discovered bug-eyed artifact to magically protect children and pregnant mothers from evil forces.
The pale green talisman is made of faience, a delicate material that contains silica. It dates to the first millennium B.C. and is believed to show the dwarf god Bes with his tongue sticking out, eyes popping and wearing a crown of feathers.
Carolyn Graves-Brown, a curator at the Egypt Centre, discovered the artifact in the collection of Woking College. It wasn't until she learned of a similar artifact in the British Museum that she was able to determine that it is a faience Bes bell, one of a very few known to exist.
"If you try to rattle it much it would (have) broken easily," she said. "Faience is very often used for objects that have a magical or religious significance in ancient Egypt."
According to LiveScience.com:
Making the find more intriguing is the quirky character of Bes himself. A dwarf god and protector of pregnant mothers and young children, Bes may look goofy to us with his tongue sticking out, however, his appearance, tongue and all, had a purpose.
Graves-Brown explained that he would sometimes bare sharp teeth and "it's assumed, but it's not known, that this [appearance] was supposed to scare off evil spirits and evil entities.”
Flinders Petrie, an archaeologist who encountered items similar to this, wrote in 1914 in his book Amulets that bells like these were probably "worn by children against the evil eye."
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Top photo is newly discovered talisman, lower is bas-relief of Bes.