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Monday, 15 July 2013

Amarna Collars and things

Did you know we have over 200 items from Amarna in the Egypt Centre. If you want the full list just have a look on our searchable catalogue at: http://www.egyptcentre.org.uk/

Generally the most popular with our visitors are the beaded collars (one shown below). Are they, or are they not fakes? They are made up of beads of faience and semi-precious stones.

The 4 collars came on the art market in the 1880s the same time as the royal tombs at Amarna were being robbed. They were purchased by Lady Berens and then later came into the hands of Henry Wellcome, and finally the Egypt Centre.

The beads are very clearly Amarna-ish and certainly genuine, but could the beads have been gathered together and strung by a clever forger? One might say they are too good to be true.

The thread used to string them is hand-spun linen, which, one might think would not have been the obvious choice for a forger working at a time when machined cotton was available. However, the forger may have been wise to the fact that linen would have been used by the ancients.

If the collars were from the royal tombs one might have expected the hawks-head terminals to be present. Egyptian funerary collars generally had hawks-head terminals. They are missing. Though, it is quite possible that the terminals were sold separately.

We could have the thread radio-carbon dated. This might prove the collars to be fake but it could never prove that they were genuine. It is possible that a clever forger used ancient thread.

What do you think?

Whether the collars are genuine or not the beads are certainly interesting. One of them is very possibly a female Bes- a Beset, but did such daemons exist in the New Kingdom? Some Egyptologists do not think so-I’m not sure. Watch out for the next post!

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