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A Rare Pan Grave Culture Arm Band, Second Intermediate Period, ca. 1759-1539 B.C.

Shortly before 2000 BC a nomadic population emerged in the desert regions of Lower Nubia. Most of what we know about these sheep and cattle herding people comes from their cemetries, in which the dead were buried in distinctive circular, shallow, pan-shaped graves topped by low mounds. Unique to their culture were paired arm ornaments made of rectanglar mother-of-pearl plaques. The plaques have two borings at each of their long ends and they would have been strung together lengthwise, edge to edge to form a flexible band. The number of plaques in each band ranges from eighteen to thirty-six (our example shows nineteen), depending on the size of the rectangles and where it was to be worn on the forearm (see W. M. Flinders Petrie, Diospolis Parva: The Cemetreries of Abadiyeh and Hu 1898 - 9 (London: Egypt Exploration Society, 1901), 46). The material used to string the mother-of-pearl plaques together was either sinew, a substance commonly used for threading, or leather strips, both found in Nubia.

Reference:  For a very similar example see: Markowitz, D. & Doxey, D. " Jewels of Ancient Nubia" (MFA Publications, 2014), pp. 89-91, fig. 7.

Dimensions:Length of armband: 6 11/16 in. (17 cm), Hanging string: 12 in. (30.5 cm)

Condition:  The plaques are intact and in excellent condition overall.  They have been restrung with sinew in accordance with ancient practice.

Provenance:   Private NY collection, on loan and exhibited at the Michael C. Carlos Museum, Emory University from 1998 - 2015, loan number: L1998.080.002

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