University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

Sakhmet Necklace, 500 BCE [Object of the Day #2]

By: Amy Ellsworth

June 18, 2012

Egyptian Gold and Chalcedony Necklace from 500 BCE
Egyptian Gold and Chalcedony Necklace from 500 BCE

This string of 30 gold cowrie shell-shaped beads, one gold pomegranate shaped bead with granulation, and two large barrel-shaped beads, one gold and one chalcedony. Cast gold pendant shows the goddess Sekhmet standing with her hands at her sides.

Often shown with the head of a lioness, the goddess Sekhmet was a very powerful deity. Her name means “the Mighty One” and, like Neith, she was a goddess of war. She could accompany the king into battle and one of her weapons was her fiery breath, which created the hot desert wind. She also had close associations with the fire-spitting uraeus that is shown on the brow of the king, and she was known as the “Eye of Re.” Despite her fearsome nature, Sekhmet was also worshipped as a protective goddess who could cure illnesses and keep away plagues.

Penn Museum object #29-70-19.

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