Metropolitan Museum of Art

The ankh, the Egyptian hieroglyph for life, resembles a Taw cross-mark (+) with a loop on top. The anth also resembles the crux ansata (handled cross), which looks like this: . Scribes from the Dead Sea Scroll community inked signs similar to the Egyptian ankh in the scroll margins next to passages with a messianic tenor.

The shape of the ankh is clearly discernible in this ancient slate dish from Egypt with its loop, bow tie and extended arm (c. 3100–2686 B.C.). Also visible is the hieroglyphic sign for “spirit,” represented here by the raised edge of the dish which ends in a pair of hands, the right one of which is visible in the picture.