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Meroitic beadwork: an overview based on finds from Sai in ancient Nubia

Joanna Then-Obłuska


The paper provides a preliminary overview of beads and pendants found at two Meroitic cemeteries, 8-B-5.A and 8-B-52.B, on Saï Island. In the Meroitic period, strings of beads and pendants were an easily discerned motif in royal and private iconography, as well as in the arts and crafts, pottery included. The Saï bead and pendant assemblage is characterized by a variety of materials, techniques, and shapes that contribute significantly to a comparative study of the Meroitic bead collections. Alongside objects already identified at other sites, richly imbued with visible Egyptian and Greek influences, the Saï assemblage contributes some new bead types. Moreover, the originally strung objects and their fragments confirm known bead patterns used over a long time between the 1st and 4th centuries AD, the date of the Saï necropolises. Finally, a comparison with other sites enables the tracing of some regional differences in Meroitic beadwork.


Nubia, beadwork, Saï, Meroitic


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