The Middle Kingdom is known for some of the most beautiful jewelry ever produced in ancient Egypt. This necklace incorporates three materials, each a different color and shape, to create a rhythmic and harmonious piece of jewelry. Garnet and carnelian are two stones, red and orange respectively, that have ambivalent associations in Egypt. Red, and its variants, were associated with the chaotic desert but also the vital properties of blood and therefore could have both protective as well as negative meanings. The blue beads in the necklace are made of faience, a man-made, self-glazing material made out of easily accessible components from within Egypt (quartz, alkali, and lime.) The blue glassy quality of faience facilitated its positive association with water and luminous celestial bodies. The combination of these two colors may have simply been a decorative choice, however one could also see the necklace as a sort of representation of Egypt itself, with the chaotic red elements referring to the desert and the glassy blue of the faience relating to the life giving presence of the Nile.


  • Title: Necklace
  • Location: Africa, Egypt
  • Physical Dimensions: 10 x 1/8 in. (25.4 x 0.3 cm)
  • Subject Keywords: jewelry, necklace
  • Rights: © Michael C. Carlos Museum, Emory University. Photo by Bruce M. White
  • External Link: https://collections.carlos.emory.edu/objects/13587/
  • Medium: Garnet, carnelian, faience
  • Art Movement: Egyptian
  • Period/Style: Middle Kingdom
  • Dates: 1980-1760 BC
  • Classification: Ancient Egyptian Art

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