Scarab of an Official

Middle Kingdom

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 109

Administrative changes during Dynasty 12 lead to an increase in bureaucracy and, subsequently, in the production and use of seals. This is reflected in the beginning of the mass production of scarabs, the most popular shape for amulets, in late Dynasty 12 through Dynasty 13 (ca. 1850-1640 B.C.). Thousands of these late Middle Kingdom scarabs bear the names and titles of officials, who would wear them as amulets, but who could also use them to seal documents, containers or doors. However, the scarabs’ primary function remained that of a protective amulet. Several inscriptions add a funerary epithet to the owner’s name, indicating that the amulet was manufactured after the owner had passed away.

This scarab is inscribed for a court official, the herald Ary.

Scarab of an Official, Green glazed steatite

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