An Egyptian Green Stone Heart Scarab, Late Period, ca. 664 - 332 BCE
An Egyptian Green Stone Heart Scarab, Late Period, ca. 664 - 332 BCE
An Egyptian Green Stone Heart Scarab, Late Period, ca. 664 - 332 BCE

An Egyptian Green Stone Heart Scarab, Late Period, ca. 664 - 332 BCE


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Representing Khepri, god of the rising sun, a hand-polished green stone scarab, with a very well-defined head, clypeus, pro-thorax, and wing cases. The flat base is uninscribed. The heart scarab, which first appeared in Dynasty XIII, played an important role in the funerary accessories of the deceased. Not only was it the medium for magical text, it was also a symbol of self-generation and rebirth. It provided the deceased wearer with the assurance that at the final judgment, he would be found "true of voice" and accepted into the eternal afterlife under the rule of the god Osiris.

Although the base of this example is blank, many heart scarabs bear part or all of what is known as Chapter 30B from the Book of the Dead, an important spell to the heart of Isis, designed to keep anything evil from rising up against the deceased, to prevent any hindrance before the divine court of judgment, and to ensure no enemy would speak against the deceased in the presence of the guardians of the balance when he is being judged before Osiris. The Book of the Dead also instructs that the heart scarab be made of the nemhef-stone, which has been identified as green jasper, serpentine, or basalt, and be set in a gold chase suspended from the neck. It appears the stone was chosen not only for its greenish color, which symbolized life, health, and regeneration but also for its weight. The heart could not weigh more than the feather of Maat, so a heart scarab of just the right heft would work in favor of the deceased. References: Andrews, Carol, 1994. Amulets of Ancient Egypt, chapter 4: Scarabs for the living and funerary scarabs, University of Texas Press, pp 50-59

Medium: Green stone

Dimensions: Height: 1/2 inch (1.27 cm)

Condition: Intact and in excellent condition.

Provenance: Private Maryland collection of a diplomat, acquired while serving in Egypt between 1949 and 1956, and then by descent.

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