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Egyptian Scarab

  

Egyptian Scarab

Scarabs were popular amulets in ancient Egypt, and today they represent a significant body of ancient art. They were usually carved from a soft stone called steatite or molded from Egyptian faience (quartz-based ceramic) and glazed blue or green. Many scarabs were also made from hard stones, such as green jasper, amethyst and carnelian, lapis lazuli or turquoise, as well as from colored glass, bronze, gold, silver and other materials.

The scarab was modeled after the Egyptian dung-beetle – a large insect that rolls a ball of dung, in which it lays its eggs. For the ancient Egyptians, this behavior came to represent the actions of the sun god Khepri who pushes the sun disc through the sky; the beetle’s life cycle symbolized rebirth, seemingly from the Earth – like the soul rising from the death. Scarab amulets were thus commonly used to protect the deceased in the afterlife. The so-called “Heart Scarabs” with inscriptions quoted from the Book of the Dead, placed on the chest of the mummy, were supposed to prevent the heart from revealing any offenses against the gods.

Most scarabs, however, were made for the living. The amulets were believed to have protective powers, so they were often worn as jewelry in the form of pendants, bracelets, and necklaces or rings prominently featuring scarabs. The scarab was also the protector of writings and goods, and the symbol and shape of the beetle became widely used as a seal, with engraved inscriptions made in the smooth underside of the stone figurines. The scarabs eventually made their way to Asia and Europe, and numerous examples have been found in Palestine, Spain, Italy, Greece and elsewhere.



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