Of the XIXth dynasty there is the Serapeum jewellery, found with the Apis burials. The pectoral of Ramessu II (fig. 105) is of good design; the wings of the vulture are boldly spread in wide curves, and the king's name is simple, without titles, and well placed. The border band is heavy, and the colouring is rich. It is a creditable work, but entirely missing the grace and sense of perfection of the best work from Dahshur.
103. Dagger (both parts)
(all of King Aahmes, XVIIIth dynasty)
The gold bracelets with name of Ramessu II found at Bubastis, are of inferior work, probably for one of his fifty-nine daughters. The name is only impressed on stout foil, which is set in a framework of the bracelet, but the surfaces are ornamented with gold granular work, showing that such was commonly used. There is a pair of collar fasteners, clumsily made by filing the bent gold and working thread-holes in the cut; there are thirty-six thread-holes, so the collar must have been a very wide one. The fastening by two halves sliding together is made by two wires soldered in to form the dovetail. In this same group are thick wire bracelets of silver, with a coarse hatched pattern on the ends; also many plain silver earrings, such as were worn by the common people of this time.
Slightly later is the jewellery of Sety II and Tausert from the Kings' Tombs. Here are also solid wire bangles, but of gold. And square wire bangles have the thin tail of each end of the bar twisted round the stem on the other side, a fastening also commonly found on finger-rings, of this age and rather earlier. Some clumsy little openwork beads are made by rough circles of gold wire soldered together; a wide equatorial circle is joined to a small polar circle at each end by six small circles touching. Flowers are made by stamping the petals out of foil; there are ten petals to each, and four of them are stamped with the king's name. Some monstrous earrings overloaded with ornament belong to the end of the Ramessides (fig. 106).
Base gold was much used at the close of the XVIIIth dynasty, and many of the finger-rings of that age almost verge into copper. But stones were used for inlay work until the later Ramessides, and glass or paste does not become usual till up to 1000 B.C. Enamel fused upon metal is not known until Roman times.
In the VII Ith century B.C. gold working was well maintained, as seen (fig. 107) in the statuette made by the local king Pafaabast. The modelling of the limbs is exact, the pose is free, and it shows the maintenance of a good tradition. About a century later there is fine cloison work on the gold birds of the Hawara amulets, as minute as any of earlier times.
105. Pectoral of Ramessu II.
106. Earrings of Ramessu XII.
107. Gold statuette (XXVth dynasty).
A free use of gold - work comes in with the wealth of the Ptolemaic age, especially for bracelets and chains. A usual type of bracelet, in gold or silver, was with busts of Serapis and Isis on the two ends of a strip, which were turned up at right angles to the circle. These are generally of coarse work. Plain bangles, bracelets with the two tails of a bar twisted each round the other, coiled wire bracelets which were elastic, and hingeing bracelets, are all found in use at this age. Much Greek influence is seen in the patterns, both now and in the Roman period. The bangle bracelets were often made hollow, both for lightness and economy of metal. Cheaper styles were of thin gold foil worked over a core of plaster; the decoration of cross lines on such shows that they are probably Roman. The chains of Ptolemaic and Roman age (fig. 109) are simple, but of pleasing style.
In Coptic times bracelets of various forms were made, mostly of silver and baser metal; but they are all plain and tasteless. Large earrings were made with a big hoop and a bunch of small pendants, or an openwork metal bead. Necklets of silver were usual, with the tails of the strip wound round each other, so as to slide open for passing over the head.
Gold was also used largely for gilding both metals and wood. The gold leaf was often about a 5000th of an inch thick, weighing one grain to the square inch. Thus a pound's weight of gold would cover about six feet square; and the gilding of doors and of the caps of obelisks as described is not at all unlikely.
Silver was known to the Egyptians later than gold, as it is called "white gold"; and it was scarcer than gold in the early ages. Of the prehistoric time there is a cap of a jar, and a small spoon with twisted handle. A few silver amulets are known in the XIIth dynasty. In the XVIIIth dynasty silver became commoner, as the source in northern Syria which supplied the Hittites became accessible. The silver dishes of this age are rather thick, and not finely beaten. One bowl, probably of Ramesside date from Bubastis, has the brim turned inward like a modern anti-splash basin (fig. 115). It seems to have been made by spinning the metal, as thin vessels are now wrought.
The most elaborate style of silver work is that of the bowls from Mendes (fig. 108). These are entirely made by hammer work, and no moulds or matrices were used for the forms. But the finish of the surfaces is so fine that no trace of hammer or polishing is left. The design is derived from the fluted vases and bowls of the XVIIIth dynasty; the fluting was made deeper and stronger, and it was suppressed below, as it interfered with the using of the bowl, while round the sides it remained as deep bosses. The detail was all put in by the graving tool, the sinking round the central rosette, the hollows in the petals, and the outlines of the petals. There is no sign of punch-work. The number of ribs is, curiously, indivisible, being 18, 26, 28, and 30; these show that it was not divided either by triangles, hexagons, or repeated halving. Probably a suitable size of rib was designed, and then repeated an even number of times; and the divisions not being truly radial, show that eye-design was followed rather than geometrical scaling.
108. Silver bowls.
109. Roman gold chain.