A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America
Early Egyptians May Have Imported Silver
Friday, June 2, 2023
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA—According to an ABC News Australia report, an analysis of bracelets recovered from the tomb of Egypt’s Queen Hetepheres in the 1920s indicates that the silver came from Greece’s Aegean Islands. Married to King Sneferu and mother of Khufu, builder of the Great Pyramid of Giza, Hetepheres is thought to have died sometime between 2589 and 2566 B.C. Karin Sowada of Macquarie University said that no local sources of silver are known in Egypt, and it had been previously thought that the silver had been extracted from local gold sources that had a high silver content. But the ratios of lead isotopes in the bracelets have been found to be consistent with ores from the Cyclades, and perhaps the area of southeastern Attica. It is unlikely that the Egyptians traveled to Greece to obtain the metal, Sowada explained. Rather, the silver is likely to have passed through Lebanon’s ancient emporium city of Byblos, a known trade partner of Egypt’s and its source of Lebanese cedar. “So these bracelets represent a very, very unique opportunity to understand not just the metalworking techniques at this time, but also the trade networks that were existing, which are very important to understanding the emergence of the Egyptian state,” Sowada concluded. Read the original scholarly article about this research in Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports. To read about a pectoral found in King Tut's tomb with a scarab carved from Libyan Desert Glass, go to "Scarab From Space."
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