Ancient Egyptian Faience Beads

By
Jennifer Torres
Jennifer Torres is the Collections Technician of the Johns Hopkins Archaeological Museum. Her primary duties include the rehousing and photography of the museum’s collection. She completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Florida, where she received her B.A. in Anthropology and Classical Studies in 2013. In 2015, she received her M.A. in Museum Studies with a concentration in Collections Management from the George Washington University.

Ancient Egyptian faience beads were most commonly used as jewelry for both the living and the dead. Faience is a material that is composed of quartz or sand mixed with various materials and then fired in a kiln. The distinctive turquoise color of Egyptian faience comes from a copper compound that was frequently added to the mixture, but objects made of faience have been found in almost every color.

Ancient Egyptian faience beads were manufactured by molding the mixture into hollow tubes which were then cut and fired. The beads could then be carved or inscribed, and woven together to create elaborate pieces of jewelry and adornment. 

JHAM’s collection of ancient faience beads, now restrung as necklaces by modern hands, were previously stored together in boxes that were too small and mounts that were confusing. These objects are now in individual housing that showcases their vibrant colors and intricacies.