Archeologists Uncover Jewels from Queen Nefertiti’s Time

MajorsDec 09, 2021

Archeologists Uncover Jewels from Queen Nefertiti’s Time

The finds include gold jewelry and gemstones that tell the story of a Bronze Age city in Cyprus.

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This necklace was among the pieces of gold jewelry found in a tomb in the Bronze Age city of Hala Sultan Tekke in Cyprus. (Image courtesy of Peter Fischer and Teresa Bürge)
Gothenburg, Sweden—Bronze Age gold jewelry and gemstones were among the ancient finds archeologists from the University of Gothenburg in Sweden uncovered during an expedition in Cyprus and just unveiled.

The New Swedish Cyprus Expedition, also known as The Söderberg Expedition after private research financing group the Swedish Torsten Söderberg Foundation, has been making excavation rounds in Cyprus since 2010.

In 2018, the group discovered two tombs in the Bronze Age city of Hala Sultan Tekke in Cyprus.

The underground chambers included 155 human skeletons and 500 other objects, including gold jewelry, gemstones, and ceramics from around 1350 BCE.

“Managing the finds required very delicate work over four years, since the bones were extremely fragile after more than 3,000 years in the salty soil,” the University of Gothenburg said last week. 

The tombs held skeletons and ritual funeral objects lined up in layers, which indicates several generations used it, said the university.

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“The finds indicate that these are family tombs for the ruling elite in the city,” said Peter Fischer, a professor of archeology at the university and the leader of the excavations.

“For example, we found the skeleton of a 5-year-old with a gold necklace, gold earrings and a gold tiara. This was probably a child of a powerful and wealthy family,” he said.

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This gold tiara, along with other gold jewelry, was found on a skeleton belonging to a 5-year old. (Image courtesy of Peter Fischer and Teresa Bürge)

The archeologists found carnelian from India, lapis lazuli from Afghanistan, and amber from around the Baltic Sea, which denotes the city’s central role in trade at that time.

The gold jewelry, which includes scarab amulets with hieroglyphs, signifies trade with Egypt as well.

The team was able to date the jewelry by comparing it to similar finds from Egypt.

“The comparisons show that most of the objects are from the time of Nefertiti and her husband Echnaton around 1350 BCE. Like a gold pendant we found: a lotus flower with inlaid gemstones. Nefertiti wore similar jewelry,” said Fischer.

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This gold lotus flower pendant with inlaid gemstones, similar to jewels worn by Queen Nefertiti, was found. (Image courtesy of Peter Fischer and Teresa Bürge)

Archeologists also found objects made of gold, silver, bronze, ivory, and gemstones. Among them was a cylinder-shaped seal made from hematite, with a cuneiform inscription from Mesopotamia (present-day Iraq).

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This seal, crafted out of hematite, features a cuneiform inscription from the ancient region of Mesopotamia. (Image courtesy of Peter Fischer and Teresa Bürge)

The archeologists were able to decipher the message, uncovering the name “Amurru,” a god worshiped in Mesopotamia and the names of two historical kings who were a father-and-son team in the 18th century BCE.

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This large ceramic vessel, crafted in Greece circa 1350 BCE, is decorated with painted scenes of horse-drawn chariots, individuals carrying swords, animals and flowers. (Image courtesy of Peter Fischer and Teresa Bürge)

“The way that the ceramics changed in appearance and material over time allows us to date them and study the connections these people had with the surrounding world. What fascinates me most is the wide-ranging network of contacts they had 3,400 years ago,” said Fischer.

The next project for the team is DNA analysis of the skeletons, to determine if, and how, the people are related or if, considering the vast trade networks, they are immigrants from another land.

The site of the city of Hala Sultan Tekke is currently on UNESCO’s list of places to be designated as a World Heritage Site.
Lenore Fedowis the associate editor, news at National Jeweler, covering the retail beat and the business side of jewelry.

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