Pectoral bearing the name of Ramesses II

The pectoral bearing the throne name of Ramesses II written in a cartouche above what is already a dense composition. Two djed pillars fill in the lower corners of the rectangular frame; they symbolize stability and the rebirth of Osiris.

Nekhbet and Wadjet, goddesses of Upper and Lower Egypt, stand side by side within the frame in the form of a temple pylon topped by a cavetto cornice. They share a single set of outspread wings. A ram-headed bird over them, also with outstretched wings, is a form of the sun god Re.

Pectoral bearing the name of Ramesses II
Pectoral bearing the name of Ramesses II

Jewelry production during the New Kingdom is attested by several sets of grave goods including that of Queen Ahhotep and the famous treasure of Tutankhamun; the works of gold and silver found in the necropolis of Tanis, on the other hand, are evidence of the technical and artistic skills of the jewelers during the Third Intermediate Period.

Temples too held large quantities of precious objects donated as votive offerings, for instance, the finds at Tell Basta (Bubastis) and the jewels from the Roman Period discovered at Dush (known as Kysis).

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.

The jewelers used very simple tools: a precious metal was melted in a terracotta crucible placed over the brazier and the heat increased by a stream of air blown through a rush reed fitted with a clay tip.

The metal was then either poured into molds or hammered into sheets using smoothed stone tools. Sheets of gold were embossed and chased to produce well detailed designs and low reliefs.

New Kingdom, 19th Dynasty, ca. 1279-1213 BC. Auguste Mariette excavations in the Serapeum of Saqqara, 1852. Now in the Louvre.