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Jewellery and other body adornment

In ancient Egypt one could decorate ones body in a number of ways. Clothing and jewellery could be used for decoration. Occasionally tattooing and scarification was practised. Makeup was also worn. Rich people also made sure that their hair was decorated, or wore wigs, and body hair would be shaved. 

Jewellery was not just worn for decoration but was also protective and an indicator of social status. So, for example, the necklace with pendants in the shape of leaves may have been connected with renewal. Plants in ancient Egypt tended to be connected with renewal (see the plant case for more information on this). Many of the materials used in jewellery were also symbolic. Faience, for example was connected with rebirth. 

At different periods of Egyptian history different types of jewellery were popular. So, for example, earrings tend to come in the Second Intermediate Period. At first they were worn by women but later men wore them. Tutankhamun had earrings in his tomb. 

Jewellery in the Egypt Centre

W4-5 Predynastic shell bracelets from Gebelein

AB8-10 Beaded collars

AB15 a glass head pendant

AB26 hair rings


W277 carnelian beads, including one shaped like a snake’s head

EC250 Middle Kingdom beads

EC1025 a Middle Kingdom claw amulet

EC252 Glass pendants

Jewellery from a Middle Kingdom woman’s grave at Qau