* An Egyptian carnelian ball bead necklace, Middle Kingdom, c.2025 BC - 1760 BC


The Middle Kingdom is known for some of the most beautiful jewelry ever produced in ancient Egypt and this necklace is such an example. The fifty three high quality graduating ball beads that make up this necklace were hand carved from both carnelian and banded agate that range from a red-tinged transparency to a fiery bright orange.   Although found by the Ancient Egyptians in considerable quantities in the Eastern Desert and Nubia, it was considered sufficiently precious to be mentioned in lists alongside silver, lapis lazuli and turquoise.

Symbolically carnelian was connected with blood and hence energy, dynamism and power.

Condition:  All beads shows expected minor signs of wear, they are all intact and in very good condition overall.  The necklace has been restrung with an 18K modern gold clasp.  A truly beautiful necklace and superb example of ancient Egyptian craftmanship.

DimensionsLength:  19 1/2 in.  (49.5 cm)

Provenance:  Miss Isobel H. Lenman private collection, certified by the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. and loaned to the museum by Joseph M. Hausler, Washington, D.C., acquired by Dr. and Mrs Stohlman in 1965 and thereafter by descent.  Smithsonian accession number: 316012 marked on central bead.  Recorded as from the Fayum.

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