Photo courtesy of Roemer und Pelizaeus Museum
Jewels of a princess
New Kingdom, Dynasty 18, 1570-1320 B.C.
Gold, carnelian, lapis lazuli, turquoise, and other semi-precious stones, from Thebes

On display in this gallery is an opulent array not only of jewelry, but of the finest examples of what one generally terms the minor arts.

It is important to realize that all of the materials utilized by the craftsmen in the manufacture of these objects were obtained from the Egyptian environment or readily imported from abroad. A study of these deluxe objects in conjunction with ancient Egyptian inscriptions reveals how the various materials were imbued with symbolic values.

Gold was equated with the sun and the flesh of the deities of Egypt and silver with the moon and their bones. Semi-precious stones in red might suggest either solar imagery or the typhonic forces of evil. Blues and greens were often equated with the floral kingdom and concepts such as fertility, joy, rebirth and the like.

One marvels at the skill of these craftsmen who, without the aid of magnification, were able to craft the tiniest of beads and the thinnest of wires. One is amazed at how adept the metalsmiths were in casting vessels of exceptional and in creating statuettes of intricate design, often inlaid with other metals. Scholars and scientists are still attempting to define the nature of faience, that characteristically ancient Egyptian turquoise-blue glazed material, which was put to a variety of uses and came in a rainbow of colors.

Although one cannot deny the level of technical achievement attained by these anonymous craftsmen, one cannot overlook the fact that each and every object in this gallery was imbued with a symbolic meaning which the members of the elite clearly understood and appreciated.

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