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Ankh


The ankh was the Egyptian hieroglyphic character that stood for the word 'nh, which means life. The symbol is also called the crux ansata, Latin for "cross with a handle."

What it is a picture of remains a mystery to Egyptologists. Some have speculated that it represents a stylized womb. This hypothesis has not met with wide acceptance, but none more satisfactory has been proposed.

The ankh appears frequently in Egyptian tomb paintings and other art; it often appears at the fingertips of a god or goddess in images that represent the deities of the afterlife conferring the gift of life on the dead person's mummy. The ankh symbol was often carried by Egyptians as an amulet, either alone, or in connection with two other hieroglyphs that mean "strength" and "health." Mirrors were often made in the shape of an ankh.

A modified version of the ankh symbol is used in astrology to represent the planet Venus, or the element copper in alchemy; in biology the same symbol identifies the female sex.

The ankh symbol is also associated with the character Death from the Sandman, a comic book series written by Neil Gaiman.



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