Dimensions: 0.750" (1.9cm) wide
Collection: Egyptian antiquities
Style: New Kingdom, Dyn. XIX
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.
This amulet in the form of a scarab is one of several Egyptian variations on the theme. Although its forms are stylized, the artist has, nevertheless, carefully articulated the head, the plate, and the clypeus and has used a series of T-shaped incisions to define the thorax and its separation from the elytra, or wing case.
The principal motif of the bottom of our scarab is a recumbant crio-, or ram-headed sphinx, facing right, whose body aligns with the curvature of one side of the scarab. His headdress consists of two tall ostrich plumes flanked on either side by a uraeus, or sacred cobra. This image is readily identified as a manifestation of the state god Amun, who was worshipped at Thebes and whose ram form is well-documented. He is preceded by a uraeus and what appears to be a jackal which serve as his emissary genii. He is likewise defended at the rear by a serpent who deploys his wings in the traditional Egyptian gesture of protection.