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Some notes on ancient Egyptian faience micro beads


Hi Folks,

     I thought I would share some of my notes on ancient Egyptian faience micro beads with the hope that you would find this interesting.

   For a bead to belong to this category, it must have an outside diameter of 3 mm or less, the average diameter is about 2.0 to 2.5 mm.. The three beads on the extreme right are typical examples.
   To my knowledge, the only pottery that can compare to this is the Kamares Egg Shell Ware of Protopalatial Crete (Middle Minoan I to Middle Minoan III, c. 1900 – 1700 B.C.). The fineness of the ware/clay is astounding and probably had to be worked for weeks to achieve this consistency. How these beads  were made is still a mystery. Did it take three centuries for this technology to travel from Crete to Egypt, did it ever arrive in Egypt, or did the ancient Egyptians discover the technology on their own? The answers are lost in time.
   Faience micro beads are closely associated with the reigns of Amenhotep III and Akhenaten and rarely appear later. The colors are brilliant, and include “Tell el Amarna” blue, lavender, white, red and yellow.

   In ancient Egypt, amulets and beads were worn by the living, the dead, and the gods. From the Great Papyrus Harris we learn that Rameses III made numerous gifts, including “Amulets for the statue of Re. I made for thee amulets of fine gold with inlay of real lapis lazuli and real malachite (mafkat should have been translated as green stone, see Lucas, A. Ancient Egyptian Materials and Industries, Second Edition Revised. London: Edward Arnold, 1934: pp. 349 to 351.)  I attached them to thy body in the great house of thy protection and thy magnificence in thy splendid seat, that they might protect the august limbs as perennial amulets for thy great, grand and lovely form.” See Breasted, James H. Ancient Records of Egypt. New York: Russell & Russell,1906 (reissued 1962), Volume IV, page 143 §253. And under “The King’s Gift’s to Ptah” he gave “Real lapis lazuli mounted in gold and fastened with two strings of beads…” (Ibid, page 172, §343).
   See ? Note, you “MUST” sign up to download this publication. There is nothing I must do except pay taxes and die. I did not sign up and did not download, so I do not know what is lurking there. Unfortunately, the other publications I cited are not online – I looked. I wish  collectors of ancient Egyptian scarabs had data  bases the equivalent of “Wildwinds” and Svoronos, but such is not the case.

   A cult idol of Osiris strung with beads was recently sold by a major international auction house. And the statue of Ibentina was found with its original bead necklace (Cairo Museum JE 63646A/B) in the tomb of Satem, 18th Dynasty, reign of Hatshepsut/Thutmoses III (see Schulz R. and Seidel, M. eds. Egypt, The Land of the Pharaohs, Cologne, 1998: page 260, Fig. 219.)
   While these beads are remarkably strong, I doubt if they were worn by the living  (too small), perhaps by the dead, or probably by the gods – to adorn cult idols.

        The carnelian frog is 8 mm high; the carnelian, and red jasper spherical beads, along with the yellow disk, and blue tubular faience beads are much smaller.
   The carnelian utchat is 9.5 mm long x 6.5 mm high; the diameters of the beads are about half the height of the utchat, perhaps a little less.    


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