Beaded collar with amulets
Middle Kingdom, Dynasty 11–13
Findspot: Egypt, Naga el-Deir, Sheik Farag, Tomb SF 43
Length: 18.5 cm (7 5/16 in.)
Medium or Technique
Glazed steatite, gold, electrum
Stanford and Norma Jean Calderwood Gallery (Gallery 119)
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.
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)
Harvard University—Boston Museum of Fine Arts Expedition