An Egyptian Carnelian Scarab, Middle Kingdom, ca. 2040 - 1783 BCE
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Carved from fiery orange carnelian, with incised clypeus and pronotum lines on the back, the base uninscribed, and pierced vertically for attachment.
A scarab is an amulet of a dung beetle, an insect that held particular significance for the Egyptians, who interpreted the rolling of a ball of dung along the ground and down a hole as simulating the sun moving across the sky and setting. The scarab laid its eggs inside the dung, and after an incubation period, the offspring emerged from beneath the earth. Thus the Egyptian word for scarab was ‘Kheper’, meaning ‘to come into existence.’ This creature became the embodiment of the creator god Khepri, who had a human body and the head of a dung beetle, and whom it was believed brought the sun from the underworld and moved it through the sky. One of the most popular amulets in Egypt, scarabs were produced for over 2000 years, from the end of the Old Kingdom to the Ptolemaic Period.
Dimensions: Length: 5/8 inch (1.5 cm)
Condition: Intact and in excellent condition overall.
Provenance: Private Maryland Collection, acquired while stationed in Egypt in the 1950s, and then by descent.
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