Jewellery boxes

Jewellery of this period was stored in small, highly ornate boxes. Usually the box carcase would be made from solid cedar boards that were simply butt-jointed together. The surface of the box was then applied with strips of ebony, which gave the appearance that it was made from a frame of rich dark timber (figure 61). The edges were disguised with small pieces of ebony and ivory laid alternately along each seam. The imitation panels are veneered with a central slab of red-stained ivory which is framed by two bands of ebony and ivory stringing. Between these are glued small squares of faience and ivory separated by thin strips of the stringing materials.

The lid of this box is decorated with veneered material in a similar fashion to the sides. The handles, which are set into the front of the box

61. Jewellery box, New Kingdom, Thebes. (British Museum, London, 5897. Photograph: Lorraine Marcb-Killen.)

and lid, are carved from ivory in the traditional mushroom shape.

Royal collections

The splendid collection of furniture discovered in the tomb of Tutankhamun in the Valley of the Kings at Thebes is typical of palace furniture of that period. These illustrious examples, however, are not very different in style from those used by the middle classes. However, the quality of the woodwork and its embellishment are often quite exceptional. Royal furniture would have been covered in gold sheet, inlaid with coloured glasses or faience, veneered with rare timbers, exquisitely painted or decorated with royal symbols like the uraeus.

Unfortunately no other royal tomb has been found intact at Thebes although we do have a pair of armchair panels from the throne of Tuthmosis IV, now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Also preserved are fragments of a chair of state in the Dundee Museum and Art Gallery and the footboard and legs of a bed-frame which belonged to Queen Hatshepsut, now in the British Museum, London.

Another collection of royal furniture was discovered by Theodore Davis in the tomb of Yuya and Thuya at Thebes in 1905. This couple's daughter, Tiye, married Amenophis III and he presented them with two magnificent chests. One of these chests has a round lid covered with gilded hieroglyphs and cartouches which bear his name. Also placed in the tomb were two armchairs made for Princess Sitamun, the couple's granddaughter. Again their quality indicates the exquisite craftsmanship of the royal workshops at the Theban necropolis.

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