Thursday, July 17, 2014

On View Soon at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston: A Nubian Gold Bracelet Bearing the Image of the Goddess Hathor

Bracelet with Image of Hathor, 100 BC
Harvard University--Boston Museum of Fine Arts Expedition
Photograph © Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
Used with permission.

by Angela Magnotti Andrews

This weekend, you can view this stunning ancient artifact in upcoming exhibition, Gold & The Gods: Jewels of Ancient Nubia, opening Saturday, July 19, 2014, at the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) in Boston. Ancient Nubia (now Sudan) served as the epicenter for gold to the Egyptians, Greeks, and other early Mediterranean civilizations.

The exhibition will feature 100 glittering treasures, including this gold bracelet featuring an array of sophisticated techniques in gold and enamel. Front and center is a representation of the goddess Hathor, worshiped for her embodiment of love, fertility, motherhood, and music {4, p112}.

Here she is depicted in gold, seated on a throne and wearing her usual headdress, a sun disk with two cow horns and a uraeus (the rearing cobra which connotes royalty and/or divine authority). In her hand she holds a staff which has as twin end pieces a pair of ankhs, the symbol of Life.

She is set in relief against a dark blue background, a supremely preserved example of the Nubian mastery of enameling. Though the surface has thinned over time, the original composition of the glass they used is "nearly unaltered" {4, p.150}. 

This important Nubian bracelet was discovered within a pyramid in Gebel Barkal during the joint archaeological expedition conducted between 1905 and 1942 by Harvard University and the MFA Boston. This exhibit will be on extended view from July 17, 2014 through May 14, 2017. More information is available on the MFA's website.


  1. African History. "Red Colors in Ancient Egypt." Accessed July 17, 2014.
  2. Isidora. "Is Isis a Black Goddess?" Isiopolis Blog, December 2, 2011.
  3. Markowitz, Yvonne J. and Denise M. Doxey. Jewels of Ancient Nubia. Boston: MFA Publications, 2014.
  4. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. "Gold and the Gods: Jewels of Ancient Nubia." Accessed July 17, 2014.

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