Silver Bracelets of Queen Hetepheres I
Some of the earliest silver objects unearthed in Egypt are these rare silver bracelets that once belonged to Queen Hetepheres I. They are inlaid with turquoise, lapis lazuli, and carnelian, in the form of a butterfly.
The internal and external surfaces of this small box, or casket, were covered with gold leaf. The lid of the box is attached to the back by hinges and it is opened by means of an ivory knob in the center.
Silver, known as “hedj” in ancient Egyptian, was also highly prized but to a lesser extent than gold. It was associated with the moon and had symbolic connections to femininity and fertility.
Hieroglyphic text on either side of the knob reads, “Mother of the king of Upper and Lower Egypt, Hetepheres” and “Casket containing bracelets.” The word “bracelets” was added to the text in black ink by a scribe.
This box was made to contain two rows of 15 bracelets threaded onto wooden bars, at the ends of which are gold disks.
The bracelets are made of silver inlaid with lapis lazuli, turquoise, and carnelian forming brightly multicolored decorations. These bracelets decrease in diameter to be worn along the queen’s forearms.
Old Kingdom, 4th Dynasty, ca. 2613-2494 BC. From the Tomb of Hetepheres I, G 7000X near the Great Pyramid of Giza. Now in the Egyptian Museum, Cairo. JE 53265, 53266-81