Any object worn as a charm. An amulet is most often a stone, or piece of metal, with either an inscription or figures engraved on it. Usually suspended from the neck, it is worn as a guard against sickness or witchcraft.
The ancient Egyptians wore amulets, sometimes in the form of necklaces. Among the Greeks, such a protective charm was called phylaktrion. The amulets of the Jews, slips of parchment on which passages of the Law were written, were evidently worn as badges of piety by the Pharisaic school, but were also regarded as protection from evil spirits and from other harm. The use of amulets was inherited by the Christian church, the usual inscription on them being ichthys (the Greek word for "fish"), because it contained the initials of the Greek words for Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior. Among Gnostic sects, abraxas stones, gems with the Greek word abraxas engraved on them, were often used. Amulets became so common among Christians that, in the 4th century, the clergy were forbidden to make or sell them on pain of deprivation of holy orders; in 721 the wearing of amulets was solemnly condemned by the church. With the spread of Arabian astronomy, the astrological amulet, or talisman, became increasingly popular. Throughout the Middle East the practice of wearing amulets is almost universal.
The usage of amulets seems universal stemming from the human desire for protection. The existence seems to extend from the cave dwellers to the present. As objects they come and go with fashion, taking on different designs and shapes,
but their purpose remains the same. No matter how civilized a culture may be, the amulets are present.