Beaded collar with amulets

Egyptian
Middle Kingdom, Dynasty 11–13
2061–1640 B.C.


Findspot: Egypt, Naga el-Deir, Sheik Farag, Tomb SF 43

Dimensions

Length: 18.5 cm (7 5/16 in.)

Accession Number

13.3609

Medium or Technique

Glazed steatite, gold, electrum

On View

Stanford and Norma Jean Calderwood Gallery (Gallery 119)

Collections

Jewelry, The Ancient World

Classifications

Necklaces and neck bands

The central motif of this small, elegant collar, is a large, hollow gold ball bead flanked by a pair of amulets in the form of wadjet eyes, one of the most popular and powerful amulets for warding off potential threats. Centrally placed on each side of the main motif is an openwork amulet representing Heh (the one on the left is very small), the personification of “infinity,” portrayed as a kneeling man holding the hieroglyphic symbol for “year” in each of his hands. These amulets, it was hoped, would help to ensure an infinite life in the hereafter. On the left side, the Heh amulet stands between two additional wadjet eyes. On the right side are a sphinx and a falcon, both emblems of the cosmic power associated with the sun god and the king. The rest of the collar consists of four rows of delicately crafted, blue-glazed disk beads linked by gold spacer beads.
The craftsmen of the Middle Kingdom produced some of ancient Egypt’s finest jewelry. Both men and women wore broadcollars, as they had in the Old Kingdom, and now amulets became an important element of their design.

Provenance

From Sheikh Farag, tomb SF 43. Excavated by the Harvard University-Museum of Fine Arts Expedition; 1913: assigned to the MFA by the government of Egypt.
(Accession Date: December 4, 1913)

Credit Line

Harvard University—Boston Museum of Fine Arts Expedition