Thursday, 29 December 2016

Treasures from Ancient Nubia

Gilt-silver mummy mask of Queen Malakaye (664–653 BC)
A new exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, titled 'Gold and the Gods: Jewels of Ancient Nubia', offers insight into the meticulous craftsmanship of Ancient Nubia (located mostly in what’s now Sudan).

The show includes more than 100 treasures from the MFA’s collection of jewelry from Ancient Nubia. The MFA’s collection dates from 1700 BC to AD 300 and is considered the most comprehensive of any outside of Khartoum. Gold and the Gods showcases elaborate necklaces, amulets, stacked bracelets, and earrings discovered inside the tombs of Nubian kings and queens.

Ancient Nubia ruled the entire Nile Valley during the apex of its power in the eighth century BC. Nubian artisans turned out some of the most sophisticated, finely crafted jewelry of the ancient world.
Hathor-headed crystal pendant (743–712 BC)
In addition to an array of gold objects, the exhibition shows jewelry made with lapis lazuli (imported from Afghanistan), blue chalcedony (imported from Turkey), amethystine quartz, and carnelian. Several pieces incorporate enamel and glass, rare and valuable materials at the time.

Nubian goldsmiths and jewelers employed methods that wouldn’t be reinvented in Europe for another thousand years. 'Gold and the Gods' also illustrates the ways owners of these adornments valued them not only for their intrinsic beauty and as signs of wealth and status, but for magical powers that protected the wearers both during their lifetimes and on their journey to the afterlife.