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Ring

  • Place of origin:

    Egypt (made)

  • Date:

    c 1292 BC - c. 1077 BC (made)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Gold set with engraved lapis-lazuli and bound with wire

  • Museum number:

    410-1871

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Rings are known in Egypt from the Middle Kingdom (c.2050 BC – c.1800 BC) onwards. The earliest examples take the form of precious stone scarabs attached to loops of wire, usually bearing royal names and titles, or those of royal women. Soon afterwards, ‘private name’ stone scarabs also emerged, bearing the names or professional titles of particular individuals, or other unique identifiers such as a combination of symbols. These were often again made into rings. It is believed that these either acted as seals, or amulets, or even both. From the middle of the New Kingdom (c.1550 BC – c.1070 BC), rings also began to be mass-produced in glazed composition. Unlike scarab rings, these were not designed to identify particular individuals, and typically displayed bezels with stock designs – divine or protective symbols, or the name of the ruling King.

This ring originally formed part of the collection of Edmund Waterton, a collection of approximately 760 rings designed with the aim of illustrating the history of rings of all periods and types. The majority of the collection was acquired by the Museum in 1871, with a remaining part being acquired in 1899, after Waterton’s bankruptcy forced him to part with it in 1868. The rings were held as security against a loan by the jeweler Robert Phillips for two years, but when Waterton missed an 1870 deadline to repay the loan, Phillips sold the collection to the Museum, having first contacted regarding a possible purchase in 1869.

Physical description

Gold ring with a revolving oval bezel set with a lapis-lazuli scarab. The shoulders of the band are bound with wire.

The back of the scarab has a shallow suture line. The underside is unmarked.

Place of Origin

Egypt (made)

Date

c 1292 BC - c. 1077 BC (made)

Materials and Techniques

Gold set with engraved lapis-lazuli and bound with wire

Dimensions

Height: 25 mm, Diameter: 20 mm Band

Object history note

Ex Waterton Collection.

Descriptive line

Gold ring with a revolving oval bezel set with an uninscribed lapis-lazuli scarab. Likely dated to the late New Kingdom.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Bury, Shirley, Jewellery Gallery Summary Catalogue (Victoria and Albert Museum, 1982), 32/ A/ 5
Oman, Charles, Catalogue of rings in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 1930, reprinted Ipswich, 1993, cat. 2, p. 45

Production Note

The gold band and mount may be a more modern addition.

Subjects depicted

Scarabs

Categories

Jewellery; Metalwork; Amulets; Africa

Collection

Metalwork Collection

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