Origin: Near East
Circa: 1640 BC to 1500 BC
Dimensions: 0.750" (1.9cm) wide
Collection: Near Eastern Art
Style: Middle Bronze Age IIB
Medium: green jasper
The ancient Egyptians maintained that the sun was propelled across the heavens by means of a scarab, or sacred beetle. With the passing of time, the Egyptians created a series of amulets in the form of this beetle in a great variety of materials, and these were routinely provided with inscriptions in hieroglyphs conveniently accommodated to their stylized flat bottoms. So popular was the scarab that it became the one amulet associated with Egypt by all of her neighbors, and local variations were created in imitation of the Egyptian model.
Our scarab is just such a variation. Created in green jasper, the artist has simplified the beetle’s upper body so that there is no division between its thorax and elytra, or wing case, although he has attempted to suggest their division by means of an incised dash along each vertical side of the beetle’s body. The beetle’s head is suggested by the arrangement of the two oblique incisions which likewise separate it from the plate while the clypeus is indicated by series of incised dashes.