Eighth – sixth century BC
Necklace tot. 37 cm
Tooth 3.3×0.8 cm
Beetles in white faience 1.5×1 cm
Beetles in “Egyptian Blue” faience max of 0.9×0.5 – minimum 0.4×0.3
Beads in glass max of 0.75×0.5 cm – minimum 0.3×0.3 cm
Necklace made of different elements, such as: beetles, an animal tooth and glass beads which make the ornament similar to an amulet (fig. 1); the necklace, made primarily of longitudinally-cut beetles, is in good shape and probably consisted of the same alternating variety of decorative elements at the time of its fabrication. Unfortunately, the burial place that it was taken from is unknown to us. The ornament is made of two beetles in white faience. At the bottom of the beetles, some figurations with incisions derived from the Egyptian repertoire are present (fig. 2). The beetle to the right of the animal tooth shows its back with the delineation of the clypeus; the head, the forechest and the elytra are almost completely abraded and the left elytron is slightly chipped. On the back, in the middle, between two cobras, there is a picture that is not clearly decipherable; below, there are three parallel lines. The other beetle, located to the left of the tooth, is decorated well-defined characterizations on its back. Its right elytron is slightly chipped. On the bottom we see the representation of the Ammon goose, preceded by a pen and surmounted by a solar disk. The two beetles in white faience, depending on the decoration style, seem to refer to the “Perachora-Lindos” Type (eighth-sixth century BC) and probably to a Rhodian production .
Other elements that make up the series are thirty beetles of Egyptian-like production, made of “Egyptian Blue” faience (formerly “blue paste”), referable to early Asia and to areas like Syria, Phoenicia, etc. (figs. 1-3).
For the most part, the clypeus of each beetle is portrayed well. The back, head, forechest, elytra (fig. 3) and the sides of the “T” are also well-depicted. The “T” outlines the elytra, but in some specimens they are outlined with the shape of a “V”. The lower parts of the beetles in “Egyptian Blue” faience feature various types of representations, also engraved, such as geometric compositions and decorative elements of different types (lines, dots, etc.) or anthropomorphic figures. One beetle depicts the “ankh” associated with the “en” symbol with two parallel horizontal lines underneath. Another beetle (or a solar disc) bears engravings on its base, surrounded probably by feathers, while on yet another, the figure of a crouching animal and the outline of a tree are engraved. This type of beetle falls into the category that appeared all around the most ancient Italian areas, such as Pithecusa, Suessula, Capua etc. and is datable to the eighth century. Campania’s aegyptiaca appear with the first Greek settlement and are present in both the Hellenic and the Hellenized area. This type of artifact has a prophylactic value. The artifacts do not come from a specific acquisition, but rather from the Hellenic world’s connections with Egyptian culture.
The necklace is not only composed of beetles, which represent the predominant amulet, but also of other elements that possess an apotropaic value: a dark beige canine tooth, which makes us think of a big feline, and fourteen beads in molten glass with an “eye” decoration. The canine tooth, perforated at one end, and at both ends shaped in order to obtain a small protrusion, is well conserved except for a longitudinal slit.
The beads of the necklace, pierced, molded and produced in spherical or oblate shapes, are made using a blue or dark-blue glass paste following “eye” patterns of a white or dark-yellow hue on an unglazed background.
As previously mentioned, the ‘new’ necklace represents an amulet composition and it can be inserted into a field of Egyptian production. In all probability, the artifact was imported to Italy from the Asian Mediterranean, during the pre-colonial or proto-Greek colonial eras, by Phoenician-Syrian-Cypriot merchants, meaning Asians or Greeks.
Gemma Carafa Jacobini