Egyptian Beadwork

When I first started working at WCMA in the winter of 2010, the digitization team was working on shooting a group of Egyptian necklaces. The bead work on them is often very intricate and beautiful. You can search our collection database using the quick search with the term “necklace” to view a variety of them. Here are some examples.


There was one however, which was tangled and confused the digitization team in regards to its proper orientation. No one could figure it out, and graduate student intern Laura Lesswing (MA Art History Graduate, 2010) spent many tedious hours with gloved hands trying to untangle the necklace. She even arrived one day wearing a black turtleneck with the idea that perhaps the necklace could be photographed draped across her collar bone area, since a hole through the middle looked like it might have been where a person’s head was supposed to go. This idea immediately seemed incorrect once actually put into practice.

Then, Laura went on a trip with the other graduate students to New York City, and after a visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, realized it was not a necklace at all. She came back with many photos of a bead shroud hanging in a gallery, including photos of the label text. Here is the shroud from the Met.

Then, Laura went to work laying out the shroud (not necklace) in a flat and grid-like fashion. We were able to update its title in our museum database. We were also able to finally photograph the piece correctly. This is just one small story to illustrate how important students are to the life of this museum, and how much we appreciate all of their hard work. The shroud is now stored flat in a custom made box, instead of tangled and improperly identified. Here is the shroud laid out flat and photographed in its correct orientation.

3 Responses to Egyptian Beadwork

  1. Wow, these necklaces are very intricate. It’s always interesting to see pieces of jewelry from past cultures. How old do you suppose these are?

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