Ancient Egyptians are very well known all over the world for their remarkable jewelry, especially the ones discovered from the period of the Middle kingdom’s reign. Egyptians started manufacturing jewelry during the Badari and Naqada eras from natural materials, such as stones, wood, and then becoming more sophisticated, made of pealed bones or braches, and starting to paint them with various substances. Their purpose was primarily religious and symbolic, often being a bit extravagant and were being worn by women and men alike. The most common symbol that was found from the ancients is the “Ankh" which was meant to represent eternal life. Some of the other symbols include the lotus flower, the falcon and the human eye, representing the healing process.
The art of jewelry-making started to flourish with the start of the Middle Kingdom, when pharaohs decided to express themselves better through gold objects. Egyptians started to master the technical methods of cutting semiprecious and precious stones with a sleek accuracy. Because of the regular missions to Nubian regions as well as Eastern Desert ones, Egyptians became more and more sophisticated in stone sculpturing, bringing from these regions not only gold, but silver, turquoise and agate as well. Pharaohs and high representatives of the ancient Egypt took to the tomb a large series of jewelry pieces like crowns, wreaths, rings, ear-rings and imposing necklaces, which were all placed on their mummified bodies. As a particularity, the vest that ancient Egyptians used to wore around their chest, has not been seen anywhere else in other ancient civilizations. It was made of pure gold, and sometimes surrounded with other precious stones. Ancient Egyptians used to make the vest even before the gold era, making it from other materials that they used to color in golden shades to make it look like gold.
Around Christianity period, and the time that followed, most jewelry were made of cheaper materials, but all incrusted with Christian symbols such as crosses, pigeons, a branch leaf, and the ancient Ankh sign. After the arrival of Islam in Egypt, men were prohibited from wearing jewelry, especially ones made of gold. However, they were allowed to wear silver ones. Not a lot of the ancient jewelries were recovered, since the artifacts were brutally ravished by thieves and the amount of gold from the ancient tombs was stolen. Still, what remained are true works of art and they are cherished at their real value, as should.
Copyright 2005 Jason Bibb
For more history and information on Egyptian jewelry please visit http://www.egyptian-gifts.com