Scarab With an Image of the Gods Ptah and Sakhmet

New Kingdom, Ramesside

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 122

The scarab was shaped like a dung beetle, "scarabaeus sacer," which is also the source of its modern name. The dung beetle was "kheperer" in ancient Egyptian. Having watched the small creatures push huge balls of dung, the ancient Egyptians compared the sun being pushed into the sky at dawn to the beetle, and they referred to the rising sun as "Kheperi." The word for "to become" or "come into being" was "kheper," and the beetle hieroglyph was used to spell all of these words. As such, the scarab became a powerful amulet for rejuvenation in this life and reincarnation in the next. The scarab is inscribed on its base with a standing image of Ptah holding a was-scepter and with Sakhmet behind him. The god is facing a djed-pillar supporting Re-Harakhty.

Scarab With an Image of the Gods Ptah and Sakhmet, Blue glazed steatite

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