An Egyptian Glazed Steatite Scarab, New Kingdom, ca. 1550 - 1069 BCE
An Egyptian Glazed Steatite Scarab, New Kingdom, ca. 1550 - 1069 BCE
An Egyptian Glazed Steatite Scarab, New Kingdom, ca. 1550 - 1069 BCE
An Egyptian Glazed Steatite Scarab, New Kingdom, ca. 1550 - 1069 BCE

An Egyptian Glazed Steatite Scarab, New Kingdom, ca. 1550 - 1069 BCE


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Small scarab amulets were common objects in ancient Egyptian funerary burial practices as devices to ward off evil and promote rebirth. Egyptian embalmers often placed amulets within body wrappings during the mummification process to protect the individual during his journey to the afterlife. Frequently represented in Egyptian art and especially amulets, scarab beetles push a ball that represents the sun and symbolizes eternal life.

On the underside of this scarab, an incised design depicts a striding lion wearing a royal headdress, who meets face-to-face with a uraeus (royal cobra), a royal sun disc above, symbolizing the king and his superhuman power. This object probably served as a magical amulet to invoke the power and protection of both the king and the sacred beetle.

Because this amulet is pierced longitudinally and has a pronounced rounded terminal, it could at one time been mounted in a setting with a pivoting bezel held by a long wire or cord wrapped around the hoop allowing the beetle to rotate, a common and popular Egyptian style of finger-ring. Some scarab finger-rings on swiveling bevels bore names and titles of officials to serve practically as administrative seals, and other iterations feature various geometric designs, hieroglyphs, or figures with more symbolic meanings. While most amulets were found in burials and probably manufactured expressly for the dead, they were also known to be worn by the living for their protective and symbolic significance.

cf: Mary Ann Pouls, "Scarab Seal" in Searching for Ancient Egypt: Art, Architecture, and Artifacts from the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, David P. Silverman, ed., (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1997), cat. 57, 195.
Carol Andrews, Ancient Egyptian Jewelry, (New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc. Publishers 1990), 163-64.
Daphna Ben-Tor, The Scarab: A Reflection of Ancient Egypt, (Jerusalem: The Israel Museum 1989), 26-32.
David O'Connor, "The Chronology of Scarabs of the Middle Kingdom and the Second Intermediate Period," in The Journal of The Society for the Study of Egyptian Antiquities, Volume XV No. 1, (Toronto: Benben Publications, January 1985), 1-41.

Condition:   Some wear to the glaze on the top but otherwise intact and in excellent condition overall.

Dimensions: Length: 3/4 inch (2 cm)

Provenance:  Hansen private collection, Wisconsin acquired from Susette Khayat, New York, 1955-58.

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