Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Sweret Bead

Middle Kingdom
Dynasty 12
reign of Amenemhat I, early
ca. 1981–1975 B.C.
From Egypt, Upper Egypt, Thebes, Southern Asasif, Tomb of Wah (MMA 1102), Mummy, in left palm near index finger, MMA excavations, 1920
Carnelian, linen thread
L. 2 cm (13/16 in); diam. 1.1 cm (7/16 in)
Credit Line:
Rogers Fund and Edward S. Harkness Gift, 1940
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 105
Wah's jewelry was revealed when his mummy was x-rayed in 1939. To no one's surprise, the films showed that Wah's body had been adorned with typical funerary jewelry of the early Middle Kingdom: a broad collar, bracelets, and anklets made of tubular beads (40.3.2-.10), and a barrel-shaped sweret-bead (40.3.1). Unexpectedly, he also had personal jewelry of stone and metal (40.3.11-.19). When the mummy was unwrapped in 1940, the superb jewelry was seen for the first time since Wah's burial some 39 centuries earlier.
The sweret is a barrel-shaped bead-amulet made of carnelian. This element of funerary jewelry was usually found at the throat of a mummy, but Wah's seweret-bead is strung on a short length of linen thread suggesting that it was intended to be worn as a ring. It was found clutched in Wah's left hand.
Mummy of Wah excavated by the Egyptian Expedition of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1920. Acquired by the Museum in the division of finds, 1920. Mummy unwrapped in New York, 1940.

Hayes, William C. 1953. Scepter of Egypt I: A Background for the Study of the Egyptian Antiquities in The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Part I: From the Earliest Times to the End of the Middle Kingdom. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, p. 308.

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