Humanoid Khepri Scarab Amulet
A rare figure of the Egyptian scarab beetle creator god Khepri, with a human head and arms emerging from a scarab’s exoskeleton. The so-called heart scarabs had to protect the heart of the deceased.
According to ancient Egyptians, the heart contained the intellect and emotions. For this reason, it should have been preserved in the Afterlife as well.
The fortune of the dung beetle in Egyptian iconography is due not only to its almost geometric shape – the flat base of the beetle provides an ideal oval space for the engraving of an inscription – but also to its natural behavior, which made it associated with the sun and the concept of regeneration and resurrection.
Khepri is the god of creation, rebirth and the rising of the sun. The scarab pushes the sun disc above the horizon and sits on a neb (i.e., basket) sign―signifying its divine nature―supported by three strokes of plural sign, perhaps meaning ‘triple.’
The insect, in fact, pushes a ball of animal dung, its food source, with its front legs to an underground hiding place. This habit, for the Egyptians, corresponded with the daily path of the sun in the sky. They also use a dung ball as a nest for their eggs: scarabs thus seem to spontaneously self-generate.
The dung beetle is one of the most widespread symbols of Egyptian iconography and one of the most widely attested amulets from the First Intermediate Period (ca. 2118-1980 BC) to the Roman Period (ca. 30 BC-395 AD), in the most diverse materials. Used either by the living as seals or as objects with celebratory value, or to accompany the deceased, scarab-shaped amulets can be as small as a few centimeters, or as large as 10 cm.
This humanoid scarab is most likely dates to the Late Period, ca. 664-332 BC. Now in the Neues Museum, Berlin. ÄM 11405