Digging . It was an amulet of life and power , shaped like a dung beetle, which represented the rising Sun , and was a symbol of the resurrection in Egyptian mythology. In life it provided protection against evil, visible or invisible, giving strength and power daily. In death, whoever wore it acquired the possibility of rising and attaining eternal life .

The beetle was linked to the god Jepri , Ra’s form as the rising Sun, and was the symbol of the constant transformation of existence.


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  • 1 Scarab in Ancient Egypt
  • 2 Funeral worship
  • 3 Other uses
  • 4 real scarab
  • 5 Sources

Scarab in Ancient Egypt

Several species of dung beetles , chiefly the Scarabaeus priest , enjoyed a sacred status among the Egyptians. Its hieroglyphic name is transliterated as ḫpr , and is translated as “convert” or “transform”. The derived term is translated as ” form “, “transformation”, ” event “, “way of being” or “the self-created”, depending on the context. It can have existential, fictitious or ontological meaning. The scarab was associated with Jepri , the self-created, the god associated with the rising Sun.manure . The supposed self-reproduction of the beetle resembles that of Jepri, who created himself out of nothing. On the other hand, the dung ball rolled by the dung beetle resembles the Sun.

Funeral cult

Heart beetle with the Book of the Dead inscription . MNBA .

The scarab was of great importance in the Egyptian funerary cult . Generally it was carved in green stone and placed on the chest of the deceased , to protect the heart and replace it during mummification. The purpose of the “heart beetle” was to ensure that the heart would not testify against the deceased at the trial of the dead. Another possibility is suggested by the transformation words of the Sarcophagus Texts, which affirm that the soul of the deceased can be transformed ( ḫpr ) into a human, a god , or a bird.and reappear in the world of the living. Perhaps the most famous example of such “heart beetles” is the yellowish-green one found among the provisions of Tutanjamon’s tomb , carved from a large chunk of crystalline mineral from the Libyan desert.

Other uses

In contrast to the use given in the funeral texts, the Egyptian merchants and some neighboring towns adopted the scarab as a seal . The best known are those engraved on the so-called stamps.

Royal scarab

Made mostly of glazed soapstone, they measured between 4.7 and 11 cm, with a text at the bottom. They were used as stamps of representation of the king , his family, and some dignitaries, during the second intermediate period of Egypt . They are one of the main sources of information of the XIV and XV dynasty . They have been found, in addition to Egypt, in Canaan and Kush .

It was widely used in the 18th dynasty , giving Tutmosis III the use of a royal seal. Amenhotep III used them profusely, as a way of spreading news related to him or the royal family through his domains. The most numerous speak of dead lions with their own arrows , and of wild bull hunts . Other copies speak of his wedding to Tiy , the construction of an artificial lake in the Malkata palace or the arrival of the Mitania princess Kilughepawith 317 other women in the royal harem. These propagandistic scarabs were of a larger size, either distributed to courtiers, high officials, or sent as gifts to the kings of allied countries.

Scarab is still a popular item thanks to modern interest and fascination with the art and beliefs of Ancient Egypt . Beetles on semi-precious stones or enameled pottery can be purchased in most stores, while an ancient large beetle, representing Jepri, has had to be protected in the Karnak temple to discourage visitors from the superstitious practice of rubbing the base of the statue for luck; now many just go around it three times.


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