The Tutankhamun Exhibit
Jewelry and Ornamentation
Ivory and Stone Bracelets
Both these pieces were regarded as anklets by Carter, but it seems more probable that they were bracelets. Flexible bead anklets fastened by ties or clasps were worn by women from predynastic times onwards and, exceptionally, by men as early as the Twelfth Dynasty. Rigid anklets, made of two hinged plates of metal, were a much later innovation; they were worn in the New Kingdom by both men and women. The two kinds of anklets, flexible and hinged, are generally indistinguishable from bracelets; identification is only possible when they are found in situ on a body. Such evidence is not available in the case of these rings; both were found in the annex and not on the mummy. Size and the fact that each was made in one piece strongly suggest that they were bracelets; the stone example, moreover, belongs to a well-known type.
In design and decoration the style of these bracelets is simple without being plain. The ivory ring on the left has a fluted exterior surface and a triangular profile; on both sides the pattern is broken by an inset bronze or copper plate inscribed in gold and fixed with rivets. On one side the inscription gives Tutankhamun's throne name, Nebkheperura, followed by the epithet "ruler of order." It is a less common epithet than "ruler of Heliopolis of Upper Egypt" and its meaning is that his kingdom conformed with the order prescribed by the gods. On the other side, the plate bears the king's throne and personal names, with the appropriate titles, and a heraldic device consisting of the king in the form of a sphinx trampling underfoot an Asiatic enemy. Behind the sphinx stands the lioness-headed goddess Sekhmet protecting the sphinx with her outspread wings, between which are the hieroglyphic symbols ankh and shen.
The stone ring on the right, which is made of fine quality crystalline limestone, was found broken. Its bulbous outer surface has a narrow flange at both edges. Along the central axis is inset a row of small diamond-shaped pieces of lapis lazuli bordered by gold wire. It has no symbolism or other evidence of its royal ownership. The type, known by the name mesketu, is mentioned in historical texts and made of gold, it was one of the pieces of jewelry given to soldiers and officials as a reward for distinguished services.