Ancient Egyptian Cowroid Bead with ‘Ankh' Symbol
Measurement: 1.6 x 1.1 x .4 cm
Material/colour: grey-cream steatite with traces of blue glaze.
Technique: stone carving, incised with interior detail; pierced lengthwise. The inscription is encircled by a single line.
Condition: chips at both ends where cowroid was pierced, also chipped on inscribed surface.
Date: Eighteenth to Twenty-fifth Dynasty c. 1473-656 bce
Identification and Interpretation: Edge of the cowroid is detailed with a band of small hatches; back is marked by a double line. A curved line defines each end. Reverse: Central image is an ‘ankh, for life, surrounded by four neb signs, meaning ‘all’ or ‘possessor of.’ The bead grants its owner all the powers of life. The cowroid shape itself promotes fertility. Reportedly from Sakkara.
Workmanship: clear carving of details of cowrie edge and of glyphs.
Function and Meaning: funerary, or amuletic to be worn in life.
Parallels: see Teeter, # 189, 190, 191 for single ‘ankh’ encircled by single line on scarabs; # 157 for simple glyph with neb signs on a cowroid.
Provenance: Collected by Gustave Jéquier (1868-1946)
Ex. Billy Jamieson Collection, 2009 (1954-2011)
Authentication: Gayle Gibson, Royal Ontario Museum