Thursday, August 11, 2016

Jewels of Ancient Egypt

The outer face of this pectoral is inlaid with colored glass and semi-precious stones. The motif of the scarab pushing solar disc has been elaborated to form "Nebkheprure".
Evidence of jewelry making in ancient Egypt dates to the 4th century BC, to the Predynastic Period of along the Nile River Delta in 3100 BC, and the earlier Badarian culture which inhabited Upper Egypt between 4500 BC and 3200 BC.

From 2950 BC to the end of Pharaonic Egypt in 395 AD, there were a total of thirty-one dynasties, spanning 3,345 years

Pectoral of King Senusret II from the tomb of Sit-Hathor Yunet, daughter of Senusret II.

Winged Isis pectoral 538–519 B.C. gold
The ancient Egyptians placed great importance on the religious significance of certain sacred objects, which was heavily reflected in their jewelry motifs. Gem carvings known as "glyptic art" typically took the form of anthropomorphic religious symbols.

The Egyptian lapidary would use emery fragments or flint to carve softer stones, while bow-driven rotary tools were used on harder gems.

The collar of Khnumet

A rebus pectoral scarab worn by King Tut-ankh-amun from Thebes. It symbolizes the birth of the moon and the sun and was part of the king's coronation regalia.

Queen Amanishaketo's bracelet

19th Dynasty inlaid diadem, or wig.
Most of the raw materials that were used to make jewelry were found near Egypt, but certain prized materials such as lapis lazuli were imported from as far away as Afghanistan. One gemstone, said to be Queen Cleopatra's favorite, was emerald, which was mined near the Red Sea, at the Wadi Sikait Emerald Mines.

Jewelry coloration was very important to the ancient Egyptians, and each color had a different symbolic meaning. Jewelry that featured the color green was meant to symbolize fertility and the success of new crops, while according to the "Book of the Dead" a deceased person would wear a red-colored necklace which was meant to satisfy the God Isis' need for blood.

Egyptian Scarab Rings
Scarab amulets were symbolic of rebirth due to the dung beetle's proclivity for rolling a piece of dung into a spherical ball, then using it as a brooding chamber from which the newborn beetle will emerge.
One insignificant king's treasure remained intact for thousands of years. That king was the now famous Pharaoh Tutankhamun, son of either Amenhotep III or Akhenaten.

His short reign as Pharaoh began at age 9. Although he ruled for only 9 years (1336—1327 BC), he was able to amass a modest legacy of wealth and treasure that lives on today.

Pectoral belonging to Tutankhamun