Second Intermediate Period-Early New Kingdom, Hyksos Period-18th Dynasty, c. 1630-1292 BCE
Like most scarabs this example is composed of a flat bottom side for the carving of images and an upper, rounded side which generally depicts the body of a scarab beetle. Unlike most examples however this piece depicts a human face rather the body of a beetle. A stylized mouth is carved where the head of the beetle would normally appear, above this two half-circle eyes have been incised with a cross hatch pattern covering the upper part of the head. The bottom of the scarab is inexpertly carved and depicts a quadruped, quite possibly a lion or sphinx with an additional animal figure behind. A hole is drilled through the scarab to allow for suspension.In very fine condition.
Dimensions: 17 x 12 mm; Weight: 7g
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Export Approval from the Israel Antiquities Authority.
Daphna Ben-Tor, “The Scarab: A reflection of Egypt” (Jerusalem: 1993)
The human face on this scarab is characteristic of the heart scarabs of the Second Intermediate and the New Kingdom Periods. However, such scarabs held a ritualistic purpose to help the deceased through the weighing of the heart ceremony in the afterlife. As such they contain on their reverse an inscription from the book of the dead. They were also required to be made out of green jasper in order for the incantation to work properly. While this guideline was not always followed to the letter generally a green stone of some kind was used. Given the lack of incantations and its steatite composition this example is not a heart scarab but rather takes its form from these prototypes. The crudeness of the carving suggests that this piece was not made by a master craftsman but by an amateur or someone in training.