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Tut Exhibit - King Tutankhamun Exhibit, Collection: Jewelry - Necklace of the Sun on the Eastern Horizon representing King Tutankhamun


The Tutankhamun Exhibit

Jewelry and Ornamentation

Necklace of the Sun on the Eastern Horizon

Necklace of the Sun on the Eastern Horizon


One of the most striking features of Egyptian symbolism is the number of different ways in which a single theme could be pictorially expressed. Both this necklace and the necklace of the rising sun commemorate in their inlaid gold pectoral pendants what is essentially the same daily event, but in this instance the baboons are omitted. The baboons, by their presence, showed that the action was taking place at sunrise, whereas in this case the same effect is produced by the use of the hieroglyphic sign for 'horizon' (akhet), which represents the sun rising between two mountains. It involves the introduction of a foreign element (i.e. the mountains) into the naturalistic episode of the scarab (= the sun-god) pushing its ball of dung (= the sun) in front of it. By this slight deviation from what was regular and normal, the artist has given temporal and local precision to a symbol which would otherwise have lacked any indication of time and place. He has also added uraei with pendent 'life' signs (ankh) to the 'horizon' hieroglyph, thus signifying that the rising sun is bringing life to Upper and Lower Egypt.

Apart from the symbol the sun-god's gold barque bears two uraei, one in the prow and the other in the stern, the head of each uraeus surmounted by the disk of the sun and the tail replaced by three amulets symbolizing 'goodness' (nefer), 'life' (ankh) and 'stability' (djed). The straps are composed of separate inlaid gold plaques held together at the back and the sides by rows of small gold, carnelian and glass beads. The plaques embody the same elements as those in the pectoral pendant, except that the sun's disk is substituted for the sign of the horizon and the hieroglyphic sign for 'festival' is placed beneath the scarab. At the upper end of each strap is a curved shoulder-piece representing the vulture of the goddess Nekhbet with wings outstretched. Two strings of beads join the vultures to the clasp, which consists of a pair of inlaid gold uraei with a slide-fastening in the center.

The semi-precious stones which form the inlay of the various elements in this piece are lapis lazuli, carnelian, felspar and turquoise. It was found in the same casket as the necklace of the rising sun.

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