TITLE: Heart Scarab
CULTURE: Ancient Egypt
PERIOD: Late Period, 664 - 323 BC
DIMENSIONS: Length 4.8 cm
PRICE: 2,200 Euros
PROVENANCE: Private collection of F.M., Belgium, acquired in the 1970s.
Large heart scarab of great quality made from polished hard stone. It is carved in a naturalistic style with the head in great detail, grooved wings and jointed legs. The underside of the artefact is flat and not decorated.
The scarab was an amulet of life and power in the form of a dung beetle, animal associated with Khepri, the self-created, Ra as the rising sun. In ancient times it was believed that the beetle was only of the male sex and that it reproduced itself using a dung ball as the ovum. The supposed self-reproduction of the beetle was similar to that of Khepri, who created himself out of the nothing. At the same time, the dung ball which was rolled by the beetle was identified with the sun in its cycle across the heavens. The scarab was, therefore, a symbol of resurrection in Egyptian mythology. In one’s lifetime it provided protection against evil, visible or invisible, supplying strength and power every day. In death, he who wore this amulet had the possibility of resurrection and being granted eternal afterlife.
The beetle had great importance in the Egyptian funerary cult. Generally the scarab was cut from green stone and placed on the chest of the deceased to protect the heart and take its place in the process of mummification. The purpose of this heart beetle was to ensure that the deceased’s heart would not give evidence against the deceased when the latter was being judged by the gods of the underworld. Perhaps the most famous example of these beetles is the green-yellow one found in the tomb of Tutankhamen, cut from stone from the Libyan desert.