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Ancient Egyptian necklace found in grave of Siberian princess

PTI London | Updated on February 04, 2013

Archaeologists have unveiled pictures of a brightly-coloured glass necklace believed to be from Ancient Egypt found in a 2,400-year-old burial mound in Siberia.

Nicknamed ‘Cleopatra’s Necklace’ by the Russians who found it, the jewellery was discovered on the skeleton of a 25-year-old woman, believed to have been a virgin priestess.

This is the first time a picture of the priceless 17-bead necklace has been shown since it was found in the Altai Mountains by archaeologist Yelena Borodovskya, the ‘Daily Mail’ reported.

Siberian academics have released the images in the hope of finding experts from across the world who may be able to pinpoint the necklace’s exact origin.

The necklace discovered nine years ago has a striking variety of colours, beautiful shades of deep and light yellow and blue.

“I have worked with Altai antiquities for more than 30 years, and this necklace is probably the most beautiful find I’ve ever seen,” said Professor Andrey Borodovsky, of the Institute of Archeology and Ethnography, Novosibirsk.

Borodovsky said that the intricate beads were made using the ‘Millefiori technique’, which involves production of glass canes or rods with multicoloured patterns that can only be seen from the cut ends.

It is believed that the jewellery pre-dates Egyptian queen Cleopatra, who died in 30BC, but Professor Borodovsky wants to find experts to help him date the piece, according to the Siberian Times.

The owner of the necklace was believed to have been 25-years-old when she was buried with the beads around her neck.

She was believed to have been a ‘blue-blooded’ woman, who was likely to have come from a highly regarded tribe or clan.

“It is quite likely she was a priestess. What points to this status is a bronze mirror which was packed into her ‘burial bag’,” said Borodovsky.

“The mirror had a chain of bronze pendants attached to it, also there was a set of sacrificial bones with a little butcher knife. It shows that the mirror was treated as a living creature, which points to its magical function,” he said.

“If she performed some priestly functions, she could have been a virgin, not having a family and belonging to a completely different social sphere,” Borodovsky added.

An artifact such as the necklace has never been found in Russia before, although Professor Borodovsky said that he was not surprised that the jewellery reached remote Siberia from Egypt more than two millennia ago during the Scythian period.

He added that the necklace, and its owner had probably come to Siberia via present-day Kazakhstan, along an old silk road.

Published on February 04, 2013

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