Pectoral with the Throne Name of Tutankhamun

This is a masterpiece of pectoral from the collection of Tutankhamun. It is a pectoral decorated in a complex way: the central part of the pectoral which represents the throne name (or prenomen) of the king, Nebkheperure, consists in the middle of a large lapis lazuli scarab.

Below it is the hieroglyphic sign “neb”, which resembles a basket inlaid with blue glass; above this are the solar and lunar disks made of electrum. The outer edges of the pectoral are decorated with two cobras that appear to be too large in comparison to the ankh signs, and the wadjet or ‘eyes of Horus’, which are depicted very tightly under the name of the king.

Winged Scarab Pectoral with the Throne Name of Tutankhamun
Winged Scarab Pectoral with the Throne Name of Tutankhamun. Photo: Kenneth Garrett

The central scarab is provided with the wings of a falcon. At the bottom of the pectoral is a frieze of lotus flowers interspersed with cornflowers and roundels, all inlaid with lapis lazuli, carnelian, and colored glass.

The lapis lazuli is a very fine-grained rock consisting mainly of lazurite, a mineral responsible for the intense blue color, introduced in Egypt since the fourth millennium BC where it was used for the production of amulets, jewelry and inlays.

It then spread to Greece and Crete until it reached the Etruscans and the Romans. In Europe this stone spread from the fifth century AD, where it was used both as a precious stone and as a natural pigment, the ultramarine blue.

New Kingdom, late 18th Dynasty, reign of Tutankhamun, ca. 1332-1323 BC. From the Tomb of Tutankhamun (KV62), Valley of the Kings, West Thebes. Now in the Egyptian Museum, Cairo. JE 61890