Beads and amulets - ROM2016_15061_42


Beads and amulets

Medium:Amazonite (microline), carnelian, jasper and blue glass
Geography: Undetermined site, Upper Egypt
Date: c. 2200-1700 BC
Period: Late Old Kingdom to Middle Kingdom
24.5 cm
Object number: 910.48.29
Not on view
DescriptionThis charming necklace of carnelian beads with carnelian and feldspar amulets may be a pastiche. The provenance, unfortunately, is merely ‘Upper Egypt,’ so we do not know if the beads came from a single burial or many. Ancient jewelry is seldom found intact, as originally strung. Necklaces, bracelets, armlets and girdles might have been carefully set into jewelry boxes for the deceased to use in the next life, but the containers were usually opened and rifled in antiquity, scattering the beads.  In this case, the carnelian leg-with-foot amulets date to the Old Kingdom or First Intermediate Period, while the green flacon amulets appear to be Middle Kingdom, and the blue glass poppy capsule may be later. Ancient beads could be handed down in families as heirlooms, and otherwise 'recycled' over the long centuries of Egyptian history.

Red Carnelian, the colour of the sun and blood, was used for leg amulets, whose magical function was to maintain or restore motion to the legs.  Such amulets are often found as anklets.  Horus was a powerful god, the son of Osiris, who could protect in life and in death.

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