Egyptian jewelry

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Egyptian jewellery articles of jewellery made in Egypt from about 3000 BC until the conquest by Alexander the Great in 332 BC, when Egyptian art declined and Hellenistic influences spread. The use of gold and gemstones in jewellery of high-quality workmanship prevailed from early periods, as evidenced by bracelets and amuletic figures found in tombs.

The jewelry was at first worn only by the Pharaohs and the court. Increased supplies of gold in the Middle Kingdom, c. 2035 BC – 1668 BC, led to greater use of the metal, then made into pectorals and other ornaments of openwork design decorated with coloured enamels.

After the decline under the Hyksos kings, the New Kingdom saw a revival of prosperity and the making of jewelry of the richest character, with polychrome decoration, as exemplified by the jewelry of the XVIIIth Dynasty (1552-1296 BC) and particularly the tutankhamun jewelry. The motifs of such jewelry were mainly symbols of deities, figures of animals (the vulture, hawk, asp, or cobra), or various symbols.

Elaborate pendants, diadems, bracelets, headdresses, pectorals, necklaces, bead collars, earrings, earstuds, and anklets, as well as honorific decorations such as the shebu, awaw, and fly pendant, and also the plain earplug and penannular earrings, were made, often of gold, decorated with enamelling and gemstones (especially lapis lazuli, turquoise, cornelian, and sometimes amethyst, as well as coloured glass and egyptian faience.

The scarab was used extensively in seals, finger rings, and amulets, spreading throughout the Mediterranean region. After the XVIIIth Dynasty, Egypt declined politically and artistically and after the Persian conquest in 525 AC the arts were influenced by styles introduced by the Greeks. The jewelry throughout the centuries was made for several purposes, as personal adornment during lifetime, as amuletic jewelry, as royal regalia or honorific jewelry, and as funerary jewelry.


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