The Tutankhamun Exhibit
Jewelry and Ornamentation
These two pairs of earrings are so simple that their royal connection could not have been detected if they had not been discovered in Tutankhamun's tomb. Those shown on the left are made of alternate bands of black and white glass. One of them is incomplete and the surviving portion consists of two pieces, one of which was found on the floor of the antechamber and the other in the rubble outside the door of the antechamber. It seems unlikely that the ancient robbers would have taken an object of no intrinsic value and a mere fragment; perhaps it was thrown into the corridor by one of the necropolis workmen when carrying out the repairs to the tomb. A feature of technical interest can be seen at the left-hand end of the complete earring: it is a thin metal core that shows that the earrings were made in the same manner as glass beads - by winding threads of glass around the core and then applying heat until the glass is fused into a compact mass. The black color is believed to have been produced by the addition of an iron compound to the glass and the white by means of tin oxide, some of which was actually found in Tutankhamun's tomb.
The earrings on the right-hand side are made of white faience and are decorated with black or dark brown insets, the colors in each case having been produced by the same substances as those in the glass earrings.
Both pairs are penannular or cleft rings. Hitherto no satisfactory explanation has been found to account for the way in which the lobe of the ear could be squeezed through the narrow gap in the ring, although it is possible that in some instances they were permanently attached while the wearer was still a child. Once they had been inserted into the perforated lobes, they would cause no discomfort. It is, however, difficult to imagine why such simple productions should have been included in the tomb equipment of Tutankhamun, unless it was thought necessary to provide as many as possible of the different types of earring, some special amuletic significance being attributed to each type.