Circa: 1640 BC to 1500 BC
Dimensions: 0.750" (1.9cm) wide
Collection: Egyptian antiquities
Style: Middle Bronze Age IIB
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. The artist has differentiated the component elements of the beetle’s head to include both the plate and clypeus. The thorax is separated from the elytra, or wing case, by a double T-shaped incision and the elytra itself is ornamented with a feather-like pattern.
Its bottom surface depicts a symmetrical composition flanked at the top and bottom by a bird with wings outstretched in a typical Egyptian gesture of protection. The schematic design of this bird precludes its precise ornithological identification, but it is assuredly intended to be identified as a sky deity, either the goddess Mut depicted as a vulture or the god Horus depicted as a falcon. Two royal ovals, containing three identical hieroglyphs, fill the middle field. These signs represent a Canaanite attempt at imitating ancient Egyptian writing, but because they are imitations, they cannot be translated.