Archaeopress Egyptology 25

The Hypocephalus: An Ancient Egyptian Funerary Amulet

By Tamás Mekis, Tamás Mekis

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The hypocephalus is an element of Late Period and Ptolemaic funerary equipment—an amuletic disc placed under the head of mummies. Its shape emulates the sun’s disc, and its form is planar (although it is occasionally concave). This volume analyses the written records and iconography of these objects.



1 Introduction ; 
2 History of the research on hypocephali ; 
3 Sun-disc under the head – overview ; 
4 Some problems around hypocephali – pseudo-hypocephali ; 
5 Systematisation of hypocephali ; 
6 Introduction to the understanding of the structure of the discs ; 
7. Spell 162 of the Book of the Dead: prescription of the hypocephalus ; 
8 Grouping of hypocephali on the basis of rim inscriptions ; 
9 Text typology in use ; 
10 Transliteration and translation of the texts of the pictorial field ; 
11. Workshop traditions ; 
12. Conclusion ; 
Catalogue ; 
I. Classic hypocephali
II. Textile amuletic hypocephali
Plates ; 
Illustration credits ; 
Bibliography ; 

About the Author

Tamás Mekis graduated from the Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest in 2007 with a degree in Egyptology. In 2013 he defended his PhD dissertation with summa cum laude. In quest of hypocephalus amulets he spent his traineeship in Brussels at the Royal Museums of Art and History in 2008 and in Paris at the Louvre Museum in 2010. He conducted extended researches at the Egyptian Museum of Cairo in 2007-9 and 2014-15, where, together with the curators of the museum, he found a rare hypocepalus of the prophet-registrar of Min-Horus-Isis Djed-hor/Wesirwer in situ, under the head of his undisturbed mummy. Tamás is an independent researcher.


‘Mekis deserves gratitude for an outstanding achievement in gathering and organizing a wealth of material that will make studying hypocephali much easier in the future. He has also put forward a coherent interpretation. Though other interpretations are possible and will doubtlessly be forthcoming, he has at least provided a target for others to tilt at. This work should be the new starting point for future study.’ – John Gee (2022): Bibliotheca Orientalis LXXIX 1/2