A steatite Egyptian scarab beetle amulet with incised features including the clypeus, prothorax and elytra marked by single lines. The reverse is detailed with clearly inscribed hieroglyphs, the scene composed of a central ‘nefer’ sign, flanked on either side by a uraeus. The three central signs are bordered to the top and bottom by two incised lines. Above this, a simple winged scarab is depicted, whilst a customary ‘neb’ sign can be found at the bottom of the amulet. The ‘nefer’ hieroglyph translates as ‘good’ or ‘beautiful’. The combination of signs here were used for their apotropaic values. The amulet is pierced longitudinally for suspension.
Date: Circa 1700–1500 BC Period: Second Intermediate Period, Dynasty 13 to 17 Provenance: Ex major S.M., London, Collection 1970-2010. Condition: Very fine, clear precise hieroglyphs.
Such scarabs, designed with symmetric compositions of hieroglyphs were exceedingly popular in the Second Intermediate Period, produced from 1700 – 1500 BC. This period is marked by Hyksos rule in Egypt and such scarabs show a definite Canaanite aesthetic. Whilst scarabs from this period had a limited specific meaning, the hieroglyphs depicted suggest artists were very much aware of their apotropaic values.
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