Flexible Beaded Bracelet of King Tutankhamun

Howard Carter, who discovered the tomb of Tutankhamun in 1922, called this type of bracelet a “wristband,” because it is composed of rows of barrel-shaped beads that make the bracelet flexible around the wrist. The beads are made of gold, electrum, blue glass, lapis lazuli, and calcite.

The principal ornament is a large scarab at one end of the bracelet; when worn, the scarab would have appeared to be the central ornament. The scarab is not a single piece of stone, but is made of a number of pieces of lapis lazuli fitted most carefully into gold cloisons fixed to a gold plate. Between the rear legs of the scarab is a basket-shaped sign inlaid with blue glass.

Flexible Beaded Bracelet of King Tutankhamun
Flexible Beaded Bracelet of King Tutankhamun

The scarab and the basket sign were intended to spell out King Tutankhamun’s other name, Neb-kheperw-re, but instead of the expected sun disc between the forelegs, there is a cartouche of the king with the same signs. The bracelet is edged with gold beads and it is finished with a gold fastening, which slides into a corresponding fitting on the side of the scarab to secure the bracelet when it is worn. The beaded bracelet bears signs of having been worn during King Tut’s lifetime.

From the Tomb of Tutankhamun (KV62), Valley of the Kings, West Thebes. Now in the Egyptian Museum, Cairo. JE 62374

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