The Ankh symbol remains one of the fascinating symbols of ancient Egypt. It represented ancient Egyptians’ life, and although it first appeared approximately 5000 years ago, it remains synonymous with modern societies not only in Egypt by worldwide. The symbol owes its popularity to its resemblance to a human figure and is believed to be the Christian cross’ origin. The ankh involves a looped cross, often plain gold but sometimes decorated with flourishes. This study delves into the ankh necklace, its cultural context, and why it is of interest.
Typically, the ankh’s origin remains a mirage. However, the necklace was common among ancient Egyptians. Besides, the necklace continues to be worn by the modern populace. Culturally, the symbol was associated with life and the promise of eternal life (Coetzee, 2017). The deities often used the symbol to revitalize the soul upon death. It is imperative to acknowledge that tomb paintings and inscriptions in ancient Egypt involved the ankh symbols, indicating their significance.
The Early Dynastic Period saw the emergence of the Isis and Osiris cults (Neeteson, 2021). These two cults remained prominent and dominant in ancient Egyptian society. However, Osiris became famous for dying and returning to life with the assistance of Isis, the mother goddess associated with fertility. Despite many gods being depicted to be holding the ankh, Isis did so more often. The Isis cult promised eternal life through resurrection and having rescued Osiris from death, and she could do so to those who believed in her. Ideally, the ankh’s links with the powerful goddess increased its prominence within and outside Egyptian society.
Why it is of interest
The ankh necklace remains the most fascinating of the many symbols in ancient societies. There is an interest in the symbol due to its influence in modern societies, impacting religion and pop culture. In religion, particularly Christianity, multiple old religious symbols were disfavored and banned from use. However, the ankh continued to be used by the church. It assumed new roles but retained its old meaning of giving life. The Coptic Church became the earliest borrowers of the ankh symbol, using it to reinforce Christ’s message of life after death (Sill, 2011). It is essential to note that ankh’s life and renewal meaning coincided with Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection. In this regard, the ankh necklace continues to be worn by Christians worldwide for the same reason.
Moreover, the symbol has significantly influenced popular culture. Musical figures such as Erykah Badu and Shakur Tupac used the ankh symbol. It would be fair to argue that the sign has become a fad in modern society. It has influenced tattoos and jewelry, common in pop culture.
Egyptian artifacts and signs have become popular with the modern populace. The ankh necklace, in particular, has influenced religion and pop culture today. The symbol remained synonymous with the Early Dynastic Period, including the Osiris and Isis cults. Since it represented life and promised eternal life after death, Christians adopted the symbol as it resonated with Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection. Indeed, the ankh’s influence on modern societal domains enhanced interest in the artifact.
Coetzee, D. (2017). The impact of the symbolism and iconography of the Ankh, Sun-Disk, and Wadjet Eye on modern (“Western”) Society. Ancient Near Eastern Studies at the University of South Africa, Pretoria, pp. 1, 141. https://core.ac.uk/download/pdf/129899255.pdf
Neeteson, E. (2021). The origin of the ankh sign: A composition of the most characteristic life symbols of ancient Egypt? https://www.academia.edu/65256366/The_origin_of_the_Ankh_sign_A_composition_of_the_most_characteristic_life_symbols_of_ancient_Egypt
Sill, G. G. (2011). A handbook of symbols in Christian art. Simon and Schuster. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=Km3Y6k06azgC&oi=fnd&pg=PT9&dq=the+ankh+symbol+and+christianity&ots=1xPv67uQW6&sig=RM6WRnhU7cnIVUJnRibH3ZD7C0w