Circa: 1700 BC to 1640 BC
Dimensions: 0.750" (1.9cm) wide
Collection: Egyptian antiquities
Style: Early Middle Bronze Age II B
The scarab is characteristically designed so that there are no separations between the thorax and wing case, but attention has been paid to the detailed treatment of the head, clypeus, and plate.
The inscription on the base is of particular interest. Its top is decorated with a winged sun disc, from the center of which two uraei, or sacred cobras, are suspended. There are identical sets of two hieroglyphs to the left and right sides of the central, vertically arranged cartouche. These identical sets contain the hieroglyph representing the club used by fullers in washing which represents the ideogram for “[His] Majesty.” Below this is the hieroglyph representing the heart and windpipe of an animal which represents the ideogram, nefer, “good.”
The cartouche framed by these elements contains hieroglyphs which appear to represent a special combination of three letters, namely “a-n-r.” As a result, our scarab belongs to a particular group of Canaanite examples which exhibit variations. Scholars are divided in their opinions about the exact interpretation of these letters. Some would prefer to interpret these letters as a reference to the Egyptian sun god Ra. Others, noting the indisputable Canaanite origin of such scarabs, are inclined to accept these signs as genuine attempts on the part of Canaanite artisans to imitate contemporary Egyptian models. The second interpretation appears preferable inasmuch as the pairs of hieroglyphs flanking the cartouche do not constitute a classically Egyptian epithet. Despite these differing opinions, there is scholarly consensus that the scarabs of the “a-n-r” group were created in Canaan by local artisans and were treasured by their Canaanite owners for their inherent magical properties.