A steatite Egyptian scarab with incised features and hieroglyphs to the reverse. The front anatomy features a detailed head and clypeus with incised linear decoration to mark the prothorax and elytra. The reverse depicts two standing figures. The first is an undulating serpent-like figure holding a palm branch and wearing a headdress. Most likely this is a crude depiction of the goddess Isis. Next to her is a male figure, portrayed with one hand raised to his head. This is the infant Harpokrates, depicted in his characteristic stance with his finger placed on his lips in a gesture of silence. His head is rounded, to depict his child-like nature. There is a large ‘neb’ sign that sits beneath both figures, acting as filler ornamentation. The amulet is pierced longitudinally for suspension, however this is now full of encrustation.
Date: Circa 664 - 332 BC Period: Late Period Provenance: Ex major S.M., London, Collection 1970-2010. Condition: Very fine. Clear hieroglyphs and detailing to the front.
The name Harpokrates (Ἁρποκράτης) was the Ancient Greek adaptation of the Egyptian Har-pa-khered or Heru-pa-khered, which translates to ‘Horus the Child’. Child-gods were the child member of a divine triad composed of a father, a mother and a child, and functioned as guarantors of fertility, eternal renewal and continuity of royal succession. Their cult grew in popularity during the Third Intermediate Period and became prominent in the Ptolemaic and Roman Periods. Harpokrates is widely accepted as the son of Isis and Osiris/Serapis. His most common representation sees him as a naked child, holding his finger to his mouth. While the Egyptian interpreted such gesture as symbolising childhood, the Greek understood it as a reference to silence, introducing Harpokrates as the god of silence and confidentiality in the Hellenistic religion.
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