Egyptian Steatite Janiform Scaraboid from the Hyksos Period


A steatite Egyptian, Canaanite janiform scaraboid with incised decoration to both sides. One side features a stylised figure wearing an elaborate headdress. She is surrounded by various signs including two flanking ureai and two ankhs. A leaf motif sits at the top of the scaraboid. The figure depicts a Canaanite representation of the goddess Hathor. The reverse is again decorated with deeply incised hieroglyphs, depicting important signs. There is a large broad collar sign, ‘nbw’, situated to the base and flanked by two large ankh signs. Two opposing feather hieroglyphs and a smaller ankh sign rest on top of the broad collar.

The scarab is pierced longitudinally for suspension.

Date: Circa 1640–1500 BC
Period: Second Intermediate Period, Hyksos Period.
Provenance: Ex private London based collection, AH, formerly in English family collections acquired from the 1920s - 1990s.
Condition: Very fine.


SKU: AH-904 Category: Tags: , , , ,

This particular scaraboid bears resemblance to those carved by Canannite craftsmen during Egypt’s Hyksos period. The Hyksos period, during the late Middle Kingdom, was a period of foreign rule by a succession of Asiatic chieftains, hailing from the Levant. Craftsmen followed on the tradition of using scarabs as protection amulets however their style and motifs were different. Hieroglyphs were often used for their apotropaic properties, rather than specific meaning. This scaraboid is a prime example of how Egyptian motifs were adapted into the Canaanite repertoire. On one side we see a stylised figure which strongly resembles the Egyptian representation of the goddess Hathor. Her headdress is often in the shape of a Hathor sistrum, as can be seen here. On scarabs, the Canaanite “Hathor” is paired with geometric decorative elements, including plant and floral motifs and sometimes other hieroglyph signs.

The other side of the scaraboid depicts various hieroglyphs carefully chosen for their apotropaic values. They all have specific meanings which express goodwill and blessings upon the owner. The Ma’at feather stood for truth and often represented the goddess Ma’at. The ankh symbol, another powerful sign used frequently, represented life. The collar sign, transliterated as ‘nbw’ was a bilateral sign that represented gold. It was associated with Horus and used as part of the pharaoh’s five royal titularies in the Horus of Gold title. Gold was also strongly associated with eternity.

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

Weight 7.8 g
Dimensions L 3 x W 2 cm

Egyptian Mythology

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