Circa: 2000 BC to 1000 BC
Dimensions: 3" (7.6cm) high x 2" (5.1cm) wide
Style: Middle/New Kingdom
Additional Information: SOLD
By far the most important amulet in ancient Egypt was the scarab, symbolically as sacred to the Egyptians as the cross is to Christians. Based upon the dung beetle, this sacred creature forms a ball of dung around its semen and rolls it in a large ball over the sand dropping it into its burrow. The female lays her eggs on the ground and covers them with the excrement ball that is consumed by the larvae that emerge in the following days as if miraculously reborn. In the life cycle of the beetle, the Ancient Egyptians envisioned a microcosm of the daily rebirth of the sun. They imagined the ancient sun god Khepri was a great scarab beetle rolling the sun across the heavens. The scarab also became a symbol of the enduring human soul as well, hence its frequent appearance in funerary art.
Scarabs of various materials form an important class of Egyptian antiquities. Such objects usually have the bottoms inscribed with designs, simultaneously functioning as both amulets and seals. Though they first appeared in the late Old Kingdom (roughly 2575–2130 B.C.), scarabs remained rare until Middle Kingdom times (circa 1938-1600 B.C.) when they were fashioned in great numbers. This specific type of scarab, called a “heart scarab” is one of the most fascinating types. During the mummification process, all the major organ would be removed and place in canopic jars. This imposing amulet would have been placed on the throat of the mummy, on the chest, or over the heart as a substitute. Some were worn by the deceased on a chain or a cord, hung around the neck, or mounted in a gold setting as a pectoral. Clearly, the spiritual importance of such is evident. The heart of the deceased would be reborn in the afterlife just as the Egyptians thought the offspring of the beetle emerged from the ball of dung and just as the sun was reborn each day, dragged across the sky by the great scarab god Khepri. Overall, the scarab is a potent symbol for the glories of Ancient Egypt as a whole. In our hands, we hold a tangible reminder of the mythology, religion, and funeral rites of this civilization that continue to fascinate mankind even today. - (PF.5819)