Shank of a cylinder amulet

Middle Kingdom

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 111

This interesting tiny element is the central portion of an imitation cylinder amulet. Cylinder amulets are specific to the Middle Kingdom (Dynasty 12-13, ca. 1981-1650 B.C.) and almost exclusively known from women’s tombs. Their function remains speculative because they are neither represented in imagery nor discussed in ancient records.

In this example, both ends are lost, but the surviving dowel was created by stringing disks of alternating turquoise and lapis lazuli, separated by thinner ones of gold, over a thin rod to create a pleasing striped pattern.

Shank of a cylinder amulet, Gold, turquoise, lapis lazuli, bronze

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