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Jewelry like those of Nefertiti in Bronze Age tombs in Cyprus

Egyptian lotus jewelry inlaid with stones (1350 BC). Comparisons with other finds from Egypt show that most of the objects are from the time of Nefertiti and her husband Echnaton around 1350 BC. Nefertiti wore similar jewelry - PETER FISCHER, TERESA BÜRGE


Archaeologists have completed the excavation of two tombs at the Bronze Age city of Hala Sultan Tekke in Cyprus, showing a cosmopolitan connection to advanced civilizations in the region.

The finds include more than 150 human skeletons and nearly 500 objects, including gold jewelry, some of it similar to that worn by Queen Neferitit of Egypt, precious stones and ceramics, from around 1350 B.C. c.

In 2018, archaeologists from the University of Gothenburg discovered two tombs in the form of underground chambers, with a large number of human skeletons. Managing the finds required delicate work over four years, as the bones were extremely brittle after more than 3,000 years in the salty soil.

In addition to the skeletons of 155 people, the team also found 500 objects. Skeletons and ritual burial objects were layered on top of each other, showing that the tombs were used for several generations.

Joyas como las de Nefertiti en tumbas de la Edad del Bronce en Chipre

"The findings indicate that these are family tombs of the ruling elite of the city. For example, we found the skeleton of a five-year-old boy with a gold necklace, gold earrings and a gold tiara. He was probably the son of a rich and powerful family," says Professor Peter Fischer, leader of the excavations, in a statement .

Finds include jewelry and other objects made of gold, silver, bronze, ivory, and precious stones and richly decorated vessels from many cultures.

"We also found a ceramic bull. The body of this hollow bull has two openings: one in the back to fill it with a liquid, probably wine, and one in the nose to drink from. Apparently, they had chamber parties to honor their dead."

One particularly important find is a cylinder-shaped seal made from the mineral hematite, bearing a cuneiform inscription from Mesopotamia (present-day Iraq), which archaeologists were able to decipher.

"The text consists of three lines and mentions three names. One is Amurru, a god worshiped in Mesopotamia. The other two are historical kings, father and son, whom we have recently been able to trace in other texts on clay tablets from the same period, it is say, from the 18th century BC We are currently trying to determine why the seal ended up in Cyprus over 1,000 kilometers from where it was made."

Among the finds are red gemstone carnelian from India, blue gemstone lapis lazuli from Afghanistan, and amber from around the Baltic Sea, showing that the city played a central role in trade during the Bronze Age. Gold jewelry, along with scarabs (scarab-shaped amulets with hieroglyphics) and the remains of fish imported from the Nile Valley, tell the story of intensive trade with Egypt.


By comparing with similar finds from Egypt, the archaeologists were also able to date the jewelry.

"Comparisons show that most of the objects are from the time of Nefertiti and her husband Echnaton around 1350 BC. As a gold pendant we find: a lotus flower encrusted with precious stones. Nefertiti wore similar jewelery ".

Ceramic finds are also important. "The way the ceramics changed in appearance and material over time allows us to date them and study the connections these people had with the surrounding world. What fascinates me most is the vast network of contacts they had 3,400 years ago."

The next step will be DNA analysis of the skeletons. "This will reveal how different individuals relate to each other and whether there are immigrants from other cultures, which is not unlikely considering the vast trade networks," says Peter Fischer.