Shank of a cylinder amulet

Period:
Middle Kingdom
Dynasty:
Dynasty 12
Reign:
reign of Senwosret III
Date:
ca. 1878–1840 B.C.
Geography:
Probably from Memphite Region, Dahshur, de Morgan excavations, 1894–95; From Egypt
Medium:
Gold, turquoise, lapis lazuli, bronze
Dimensions:
L. 3.5 cm (1 3/8 in.)
Credit Line:
Purchase, Edward S. Harkness Gift, 1926
Accession Number:
26.7.1308
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.
Formerly MacGregor Collection; purchased by Lord CArnarvon at the MacGregor sale [Sotheby, Wilkinson and Hodge 1922]; Carnarvon Colection purchased by the Museum from Lady Carnarvon, 1926.

Wallis, Henry 1898. Egyptian Ceramic Art: the MacGregor collection ; a contribution towards the history of Egyptian pottery. London: Taylor and Francis.

Hayes, William C. 1953. Scepter of Egypt I: A Background for the Study of the Egyptian Antiquities in The Metropolitan Museum of Art: From the Earliest Times to the End of the Middle Kingdom. Cambridge, Mass.: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, p. 236.