Tut Exhibit - King Tutankhamun Exhibit, Collection: Jewelry - Winged Scarab Pectoral representing King Tutankhamun

The Tutankhamun Exhibit

Jewelry and Ornamentation

Winged Scarab Pectoral

The pectoral of this necklace represents a winged scarab holding in its forelegs the lunar disk and crescent and in its back legs a basin. Between and attached to the scarab and the basin are three vertical gold bars. The pectoral is made of solid gold decorated on the outer surface with cloisonne-work of lapis lazuli, carnelian, and turquoise-colored glass. The lunar disk is of gold alloyed with silver. All the details of the elements in its composition are finely engraved in the gold base on the inner surface.

It is evident that the pectoral represents the throne name of Tutankhamun, Nebkheperura, but two of its elements are not the usual hieroglyphic signs used for writing the name. The basin (heb) has been substituted for the basket (neb) and the lunar disk and crescent (iah) for the sun's disk (ra). In both cases the substitutions can be explained as examples of artist's freedom, but the basin may have been intended to suggest the idea that the king would live to celebrate many festivals, also written as heb. Carter thought that the moon's disk was intended to counterbalance the sun's disk of the falcon pectoral. He remarked, however, that all these pectorals showed signs of friction; it seems unlikely that they were worn together as a pair by the king during his lifetime, though he may well have worn them individually.

Chains of plaited gold wire connect the pectoral with two inlaid gold lotus flowers and a heart-shaped pendant separated by two carnelian beads. The pendant is inlaid with a cartouche bearing the king's throne name written in the normal manner flanked by two uraei. Since the lotus flowers have five holes and the pectoral is provided with a similar number of eyelets at the tops of the wings, it is probable that the necklace was originally intended to have five strands of gold bead chains.