Gold pectoral of a hovering falcon
Late Period, after 600 BC
Inlaid with multicoloured glass
Pectorals first appear in royal burials of the Middle Kingdom (about 2040-1750 BC), but are known from wall decoration of the Old Kingdom (about 2613-2160 BC). They are usually made of precious metal, inlaid with semi-precious stone or coloured glass. Pectorals were often placed on the chest of the mummy. Twenty-six pectorals were found in the tomb of Tutankhamun. Some were placed on his body, while others were found in one of the Anubis shrines and chests. Many pieces were worn during life as they show signs of wear.
The decoration of pectorals was often associated with kingship, and with the protection of the gods. Symbols for eternity, life and protection are also often included. Falcons with outstretched wings were a popular motif. Their form allowed for elaborate and colourful inlays. The falcon was associated with the sun god, and with the ba. The ba was the element of an individual which is close to what we would call the 'personality'. The ba, represented by a bird, usually with a human head, was believed to stay close to the body.
S. Quirke and A.J. Spencer, The British Museum book of anc (London, The British Museum Press, 1992)