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Queen Zar's Arm and Turquoise Bracelets

Posted by Debbie Barlow on 4th Apr 2019

I try to give lots of interesting information on all things rock and mineral related. I use my husband, the Graduate Gemologist and experienced Lapidary Artist's expertise, as well as our extensive collection of rock and mineral books and, of course, the World Wide Web. But I must confess that I don't always do extensive research to verify the information!

So when recently Peggy Andreas emailed me, asking for more information on my assertion under the Turquoise category that stated:

"Turquoise has been mined from what is now known as Iran since 5000 B.C. In fact it is the national gemstone of Iran. In 1990 the tomb of Queen Zar was opened and a turquoise cabochon bracelet was found on the mummies' wrist."

I must confess I didn't remember where that information had come from and was unsure if it was even accurate. I quickly did some online research and found lots of references to this bit of history but nothing really scientific to substantiate it.I did send her back a link to one website that stated:

“The oldest pieces of Egyptian gold jewellery, four bracelets, were found in the tomb of King Zer at Abydos. They date back to 3200 BCE, during the first Egyptian dynasty. When discovered in 1900, these bracelets were still in place on Queen Zer’s linen-wrapped arm; her arm was all that remained of her body. The bracelets were made of gold, lapis lazuli, and turquoise.”

So I suggested that perhaps I had gotten the name wrong. Well, Miss Andreas took that information and ran with it! She did a ton of research and came up with lots of information and she has kindly agreed to let me share the highlights with you.

The second ruler of the First Dynasty was named King Djer, which when translated to English, became King Zer and possibly changed to King Zar. After Djer came Djet and then Den. However when Den became king he was very young, so his mother, King Djer’s daughter, Queen Merneith was the true ruler.

In 1900 William Petrie discovered Merneith’s tomb. It is said Petrie discovered a mummified forearm, however it is also said that the arm was discarded by Emile Brugsch. As for the Turquoise bracelets, there are several references that to them and we know that in King Djer/Zer/Zar’s tomb, many copper and turquoise artifacts were found.

So that’s the abbreviated story. For more information check out Peggy Andrea’s blog here: https://thejoiedevivrepath.blogspot.com/

She was very thorough and has a lot more links and references to support her writings and she should be posting all the information soon!