Faience spacer for necklace with images of a king and gods

Possibly from Tuna el-Gebel, Egypt
Third Intermediate Period, 9th-8th century BC

A remarkable example of the faience-maker's craft

This delicate object is a remarkable example of the faience-maker's craft. As well as being decorative, spacer beads served a practical function. They were strung at intervals in necklaces and other complex jewellery to prevent the strings from sagging and tangling. As with most objects in ancient Egypt, the opportunity was taken to decorate these practical objects.

The two main faces of the bead show scenes of a king and gods; on one face Horus and Thoth flank an unnamed king and pour life-giving water over him, while on the other side a falcon-headed solar deity holds a bound prisoner while four other deities assist in the scene. It is thought that the whole scene may be associated with the theme of the royal coronation and the New Year festival, as an image of the reassertion of royal power in association with the gods.

This piece is made from a number of pieces of faience that were carved out and then joined when dry, but before firing. Some sort of internal support, perhaps of wood, was probably used to prevent the material shifting during firing.

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More information


F.D. Friedman (ed.), Gifts of the Nile: ancient Egy (London, Thames and Hudson, 1998)


Length: 5.500 cm
Width: 4.000 cm

Museum number

EA 14556



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