Ribbed or "melon" beads of blue faience are one of the bead types associated with the Middle Kingdom. When incorporated into necklaces, they are typically strung in groups of uniform size or arranged in a graduated fashion. Single ribbed beads, such as this example, were also included in necklaces with beads and amulets of varying shapes, sizes, and materials. Traces of fine iridescence still remain on this large, high quality bead of blue green faience.
The form of these beads is thought to derive from the nasturtium seed, whose medical uses were known in the Egyptian pharmacopoeia to treat severe eye ailments such as conjunctivitis (Harris, p 193). Necklaces of large, ribbed ball beads were popular in Nubia during the Second Intermediate Period. Later, during the Napatan and Meiotic Periods, they were worn by kings, queens, and deities.
Condition: Expected minor signs of wear to the surface and both terminals of the bead, it is intact and in good condition overall.
Dimensions: Width: 2.5 cm (0.98 inch) Height: 2 cm (0.75 inch)
Provenance: Private German collection, acquired prior to 1960.