Egyptian Steatite Scarab with Apotropaic Hieroglyphs

£ 395.00

A large Egyptian steatite scarab with incised features and hieroglyphs to the reverse. To the obverse, particular attention has been paid to the head of the scarab and the raised clypeus. The elytra, wing casings, are indicated loosely, through two small indentations at each side.  The reverse features a symmetrical scene of various apotropaic hieroglyphs. To the top is a three pronged plant, most likely a papyrus with three blooms. Underneath is a central ‘nefer’ hieroglyph, described as a windpipe connected to a heart. It translates as ‘good’ or ‘beautiful’. On either side are two undulating uraei, inscribed with a hatched pattern. A large ‘neb’ basket sign sits at the bottom and completes the composition.

The scarab has been pierced longitudinally for suspension.

Date: Circa 2055 – 1650 BC
Period: Middle Kingdom
Provenance: Ex major S.M., London, Collection 1970-2010.
Condition: Very good condition with very fine and clearly defined hieroglyphs. Large example.


SKU: AH-1036 Category: Tags: , , , ,

The scarab beetle was an exceedingly popular symbol in the art of Ancient Egypt, thought to represent the sun god, Ra. The Ancient Egyptians believed that the scarab beetle rolling its ball of dung across the desert mirrored the journey of the sun across the sky from day to night. As the beetle laid its eggs within the dung, it became a symbol of rebirth and regeneration.

The inclusion of the ‘nefer’ sign could also be interpreted as the ‘sma’ hieroglyph, also described as a windpipe connected to a pair of lungs. It depicts the unification of lower and upper Egypt. The papyrus plant was also the symbol of Lower Egypt. Ironically such themes were commonly represented on scarabs of the Middle kingdom, when Egypt was often not unified.

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

Weight 6.61 g
Dimensions L 2.6 x W 1.3 x H 1.1 cm