Egyptian Steatite Scarab with Recumbent Sphinx
A steatite Egyptian scarab with incised features depicting the clypeus, prothorax and elytra marked by single lines. The scarab is decorated to the reverse, presenting a recumbent sphinx to the centre wearing the Atef crown. To the top left is a uraeus cobra with outstretched wings in a sign of protection, the crude silhouette of his wings the dominant feature. Under the recumbent sphinx is a large winged scarab beetle, with wings unfurled. The amulet is pierced longitudinally for suspension.
Circa 1070–664 BCPeriod:
Third Intermediate Period Provenance:
Ex major S.M., London, Collection 1970-2010.Condition:
Very fine. Hieroglyphs clearly defined.
The hieroglyphs depicted here are apotropaic in nature, offering protection and personal salvation for the wearer of the amulet. The sphinx, a mythological creature with the body of a lion and the head of a man, symbolised the king and Pharaonic power. The rearing cobra with its wings outstretched offers protection. The two signs combined are most likely beseeching the Lord of Life, the god Ra, which is also reiterated by the inclusion of the winged scarab. All three signs are thus connected, offering protection and referencing the apotropaic properties of the sun.
To find out more about Ancient Egyptian amulets please see our relevant blog post: Egyptian Amulets and their Meanings.