Among the treasures of the Metropolitan Museum’s Egyptian collection is a lavish girdle made of gold, carnelian, feldspar, pellets of copper-silver alloy, and gilded cowrie shells. The girdle’s owner was Princess Sithathoryunet, who lived during the Middle Kingdom (mid-Dynasty 11–Dynasty 13, ca. 2030–1640 B.C.) in the reigns of Senwosret II and Amenemhat III of Dynasty 12. The original girdle is the basis for our Egyptian Princess Shell Necklace with alternating beads of 24k gold overlay, carnelian, and aquamarine.
24K gold overlay, with carnelian and aquamarine beads. Hook and eye closure. 17"L with a 2" extender chain.
- 24K gold overlay
- Carnelian and aquamarine beads
- Hook and eye closure
- 17"L with a 2" extender chain
Art HistoryA superb example of the technical skill and artistry of Middle Kingdom (mid-Dynasty 11–Dynasty 13, ca. 2030–1640 B.C.) jewelers, the girdle was excavated in 1914 from Princess Sithathoryunet’s tomb at Lahun under sponsorship of the Egypt Exploration Society, and was purchased by the Museum two years later. Cowry shells, thought to possess magical properties and boost female fertility, were often added to ancient Egyptian adornments.