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Signet Ring Inscribed for Akhenaten

Egyptian, Classical, Ancient Near Eastern Art

On View: Egyptian Orientation Gallery, 3rd Floor
Egyptian Metalwork

Egyptian artisans used both local and imported metals to make jewelry, vessels, tools, and other objects like the ones displayed here.

Gold existed as a pure metal in the desert east of Luxor and farther south in Nubia, whose name means “Gold Land,” but silver had to be imported from Crete, Cyprus, and Mesopotamia. Most electrum (a natural alloy of gold and silver) was brought from Nubia, but some was made in Egypt. Copper was the most commonly used metal in ancient Egypt.

Beginning in the late Middle Kingdom or shortly thereafter, workers learned how to produce bronze, an alloy of copper and tin, from metalsmiths in western Asia. By the New Kingdom, metalworkers had mastered techniques that are still practiced today, including hammering, soldering, burnishing, engraving, repoussé (creating a raised image on a metal sheet), sheetworking, and casting. In sheetworking—used to make bowls, basins, and some thin jewelry— rough metal slabs called ingots were hammered into thin sheets and shaped into the desired form. Individual sheets could be joined with rivets or by soldering. Workers made tools, statues, and thick jewelry such as rings by pouring molten metal into molds. While many Middle Kingdom objects were solid cast, by the end of the period artisans had learned the lost-wax method of casting, producing hollow metal pieces around a clay core.
MEDIUM Electrum
  • Place Made: Egypt
  • DATES ca. 1353–1336 B.C.E.
    DYNASTY Dynasty 18
    PERIOD New Kingdom, Amarna Period
    DIMENSIONS Diam. of inner part of ring 11/16 x Length of bezel 11/16 in. (1.7 x 1.7 cm)  (show scale)
    CREDIT LINE Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund
    PROVENANCE Archaeological provenance not yet documented; by 1933, acquired by Maurice Nahman of Cairo, Egypt; 1933, purchased in Paris, France from Maurice Nahman by Jean Capart for the Brooklyn Museum.
    Provenance FAQ
    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Signet ring of electrum with oval bezel on which the rekhit bird is worshipping the Horus name of Amenhotep “Living of truth”. Probably the item belonged to a member of the royal family at El Amarna. The hieroglyphs are filled in with a green substance but this is probably only an accumulation. Condition, excellent with only a few green stains.
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is on view in Egyptian Orientation Gallery, 3rd Floor
    CAPTION Signet Ring Inscribed for Akhenaten, ca. 1353–1336 B.C.E. Electrum, Diam. of inner part of ring 11/16 x Length of bezel 11/16 in. (1.7 x 1.7 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 33.681. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, CUR.33.681_erg456.jpg)
    IMAGE overall, CUR.33.681_erg456.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 9/5/2007
    "CUR" at the beginning of an image file name means that the image was created by a curatorial staff member. These study images may be digital point-and-shoot photographs, when we don\'t yet have high-quality studio photography, or they may be scans of older negatives, slides, or photographic prints, providing historical documentation of the object.
    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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