The Tutankhamun Exhibit
Jewelry and Ornamentation
The multiplicity of layers of wrappings on a mummy made it possible to place a large number of amulets at different levels over the particular part of the body which, through the power of magic, they were intended to protect or to help in some way. On the neck alone of Tutankhamun's mummy there were twenty amulets arranged in six groups, each group separated from the next by several layers of bandages. The serpent head amulet was in the second group from the top and the cobra amulet illustrated here belonged to the next group below.
This amulet represents a cobra (either Naja haje or Naja nigricollis) in repose. It is made of thin sheet gold, embossed and chased. At the back it has an eyelet through which a linen string had been threaded to attach it, with two other amulets to the king's neck. As a hieroglyphic sign it represented the letter j or dj, but its amuletic significance, at least by itself, is unknown. Perhaps it was misplaced by the embalmers, and it belonged with the cobras in the fifth layer.