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Middle Kingdom (about 2025-1700 BC) shells with a royal name

UC 52151

There survive over fifty shells of this type (oyster shells, Avicula (Meleagrina) margaritacea), with the incised names of Senusret I Kheperkare. The inscriptions were originally filled with pigment. The function is unknown, but it has been suggested that they are insignia of a military class; this rather modern-sounding interpretation is disputed, and they may be amulets with a different relation to the royal court, within the broad and little-studied cateogry of 'royal name as amulet'. One or two examples with names of other Twelfth Dynasty kings have been cited: a gold shell in the Petrie Museum with the name of the Seventeenth Dynasty king Tao is of doubtful authenticity.

Spurr/Reeves/Quirke 1999: 14-15, no. 6

other examples

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