Skip to main content


Discover the Secrets of Ancient Egypt with Herbert Hidden Histories

This necklace isn’t as old as you might think. It was made in Egypt for a tourist between 100 to 200 years ago. In the 1800's Egypt became an increasingly popular tourist destination, and these visitors were keen to bring back souvenirs of their trip. This could be something made as a souvenir, or a fake made to look much older than it was.

However, in this case the beads themselves are much older than the necklace.

As the beads were restrung relatively recently we cannot be certain where in Egypt they were originally found. However, we do know what all of the amulets stood for. These figures provided magical protection for the wearer, in this life or the afterlife.

The amulets include two eye of Horus (wadjet), Isis (recognisable by the throne on her head), four Tawerets (a pregnant hippopotamus), two Anubis figures (with jackal head), two Bes figures, and four striding men. The god Bes was shown as a short man with lion ears and a beard. The ancient Egyptians believed that he protected children and households. As well as amulets of Bes, his image has been found painted in bedrooms, even in the bedroom of King Amnehotep III!

This fascinating necklace belonged to a professor of Egyptology at Oxford who worked in Egypt with Flinders Petrie, a famous archaeologist. The Herbert has around 30 objects from ancient Egypt, all donated by individuals. You can see some of them on display in the Herbert's History Gallery and in a drawer of small objects in What’s in Store.

The Herbert Art Gallery & Museum's ever-popular Secret Egypt exhibition begins with popular myths surrounding ancient Egypt, and uses objects to explore the truth behind the myth. The Herbert's Secret Egypt touring exhibition is currently on show at Worcester Museum & Art Gallery until 31 August 2013.