The Tutankhamun Exhibit
Jewelry and Ornamentation
Tutankhamun's Throne Name
Egyptian kings, when they ascended the throne, assumed four names and titles besides the name that they already possessed and to which the title "Son of Ra" was added. In formal documents, particularly those carved on monuments to record historical events and personal achievements, all five names and titles might be written, but the usual practice was to employ only the throne and personal names, both of which were written, as a rule, within cartouches. If space was too restricted to allow room for more than one name, it was generally the throne name that was chosen. Several pieces among Tutankhamun's jewelry bear only the throne name, Nebkheperura, without a title. It was spelled with three signs, representing a basket (neb), a beetle, to which three vertical strokes were added to indicate the plural (kheperu), and the sun's disk (ra). The name of the sun-god Ra was written first for honorific reasons and the basket was written last because, when the name was written in an upright cartouche, the sign filled the rounded base of the cartouche. In one respect only does the name show any variation: the beetle may or may not have wings, but the reading is unaffected by their presence or absence.
The pendant illustrated here is an example of the writing of the throne name without the addition of the title "king of Upper and Lower Egypt." In common with other pendants of its kind among Tutankhamun's jewelry, the scarab is disproportionately large. It is made of very heavy gold plate, finely chased on both the upper and the lower surfaces. The sun's disk, inlaid with carnelian and flanked by pendent uraei, is held in the front claws (one broken) of the scarab, thus reproducing the action of the beetle in nature. Beneath the scarab, and separated from it by the three strokes indicating the plural, is the basket, made of gold and inlaid with blue glass. Fragments of what seem to have been the beaded borders of wings remain attached to the left side of the basket and the right-hand edge of the sun's disk. The surviving traces do not appear to fit a cartouche or, at the base, an additional band of gold, as suggested by Carter. A gold eyelet for suspension is soldered to the back of the plate bearing the sun's disk. Two rows of small gold beads, found on the neck of the scarab, are not shown in the photograph, but some blue and gold beads can be seen between the left-hand uraeus and the head.