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W277 Cornelian beads


This necklace of cornelian beads dates to the Middle Kingdom. The beads have been restrung in modern times and it is not known if all the beads were originally found together. The three central beads are in the shape of snakes’ heads and two examples have eyes suggested by engraved circles.

Snakes head cornelian pendants may date to the Middle Kingdom (Andrews 1981, 66 nos. 430-432) or New Kingdom (Andrews 1994, 85). However, ones shaped like ours date to the Middle Kingdom (British Museum EA 30860, Andrews 1981, 65 no 422). Similar pendants are also illustrated in Engelbach and Gunn (1923, pl.LI.44). 

The snakes head amulet Menqet or Mekert is described in Spell 101 of the Book of the Dead. Such amulets were often placed at the throat of the mummy. 

This item was purchased by Wellcome at auction in 1924

Other snake related items in the Egypt Centre

Other Middle Kingdom Items in the Egypt Centre

Further reading: 

Aldred, C.A.R. 1971. Jewels of the Pharaohs. Egyptian Jewellery of the Dynastic Period. London: Thames and Hudson. 

Andrews, C.A.R. 1981. Catalogue of Egyptian Antiquities in the British Museum VI. Jewellery I from the Earliest Times to the Seventeenth Dynasty. London: British Museum Press.  

Andrews, C.A.R. 1990. Ancient Egyptian Jewellery. London: British Museum Press. 

Andrews, C.A.R. 1994. Amulets of Ancient Egypt. London: British Museum Press. 

Engelbach, R. and Gunn, B. 1923. Harageh. London: British School of Archaeology in Egypt.