Girdle with Cowrie Shells
This girdle with cowrie shells was found with other pieces of jewelry in the plundered chamber reached by a shaft in the portico of a rock-cut tomb in the Asasif section of the Theban necropolis. Among the finds were parts of a rectangular wooden coffin with green hieroglyphs on a yellow background as well as a few remains of one or more model wooden boat(s), three scarabs (13.180.8- .10), two anhydrite toilet vessels (13.180.19a- .c, .20) and the group of jewelry items (13.180.1- .18a- .l) striking for the extensive use of silver.
Dates that can be ascertained by stylistic comparisons to some of the objects range from the late Middle Kingdom (ca. 1850-1700 B. C.) to the late Second Intermediate Period (ca. 1580-1550 B. C.). A number of clay pots (28.3.239- .241 now in the Oriental Institute Museum, Chicago) from the area of the tomb but not with certainty identified as found inside the shaft and chamber from which the jewelry was obtained date to the late Second Intermediate Period.
Jewels had mainly a protective function. Precise magical and symbolic characteristics were attributed to stones and precious metals so that the design and choice however, that reached the highest level of skill was the cutting and setting of semi-precious stones.
Late Middle Kingdom, 12th Dynasty to late 17th Dynasty, ca. 1850-1700 BC. Now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. 13.180.11