Tut Exhibit - King Tutankhamun Exhibit, Collection: Jewelry - Two Circlets representing King Tutankhamun

The Tutankhamun Exhibit

Jewelry and Ornamentation

Two Circlets

Two Circlets

Both these circlets were found in a badly damaged condition in the chamber that Carter called the annex.

(Top) When complete, this circlet consisted of two rows of beads, one above the other; the lower row is missing, with the exception of one lotus-flower terminal next to the clasp. The surviving row is composed of black and white cylindrical beads, threaded alternately on a hoop made of either bronze or copper. Carter thought the black beads, which are inlaid with diamond-shaped insets of gold, were made of a highly polished resinous substance, but it has since been suggested that the material is glass or obsidian. The white beads are made of alabaster, inlaid with quartz or transparent glass backed with a red pigment. The lotus-shaped terminals of cloisonne-work are attached to the damaged parts of a gold clasp. A convex connecting link of gold on the underside (not visible in the photograph) probably fitted into a corresponding socket in the lower row and it may have been matched by a similar link on the opposite side, of which nothing has been preserved.

(Bottom) In shape and in material the beads in this circlet resemble those in the first circlet, but the triangular pattern of the inlay is different. It has only one row of beads and a gold terminal next to the broken sliding clasp. The hoop, again made of bronze or copper, was cast in two semicircular pieces; the connecting link at the end opposite the clasp is now missing.

While the term circlet describes the shape of these two objects, it does not define their function, which still remains uncertain. Carter tentatively called them by the Arabic word aqal - the name of the headband in Arab dress - and expressed the opinion that they might be some form of headdress. Circlets were undoubtedly worn on occasion by ancient Egyptian men and women, both for confining the hair and for purposes of adornment, but they were not used for keeping a linen headdress in position like the aqal. One authority has suggested that they were bracelets and another that they were collars. At present, no final solution to the problem seems possible, but the fact that the double circlet was found in a box made for storing a wig lends support to Carter's conjecture.