Egyptian Serpentine Heart Scarab

£ 250.00

An Egyptian, mottled green, serpentine heart-scarab with stylised head and marked elytra. The clypeus is carefully rendered with the humeral callosities present. The elytra are marked with vertical striations. From the side, it is possible to see the finely carved feathered back legs. Two perforations on each side of the elytra possibly to allow the scarab to be affixed to a pectoral. The base is flat and uninscribed.

Date: Circa 664-332 BC
Period: Late Period
Provenance: From an English collection (A.B), 1930s-1940s
Condition: Very good condition. Specks of encrustation, minor scratches and wear to the surface.


SKU: XJ-43 Category: Tag:

Scarabs first appeared around the end of the First Intermediate Period and had an enduring presence in ancient Egyptian culture, popular even under Graeco-Roman rule. They were made in various typologies; such as heart scarabs, commemorative scarabs, and scarab amulets catering to different functions. Heart scarabs, the earliest of which dates to the 13th Dynasty, are usually found in burial contexts. They were often placed on the heart of the mummy, to guard against the heart of the deceased speaking against him during the Day of Judgement.

On the Day of Judgement, the heart of the deceased was weighed against the feather of Maat – the principle of order and justice, by the god Anubis. Only righteous individuals would pass this final test and gain entry into the afterlife. Heart amulets were used to ensure a positive judgment. Hence many heart scarabs were inscribed with a form of spell 30B of the Book of the Dead, the so-called heart scarab spell:

Oh my heart of [my] mother!
Oh my heart of [my] mother!
My heart of my different ages!
Do not stand as a witness!
Do not oppose me in the tribunal!
Do not show your hostility against me before the Keeper of the Balance!

To find out more about Ancient Egyptian amulets please see our relevant blog post: Egyptian Amulets and their Meanings.

Weight 9.66 g
Dimensions L 3 x W 2.2 x H 0.6 cm



Reference: For similar item: Portland Art Museum, Portland, Oregon, item 29.16.384

You may also like…