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Egyptian Scarab

20 November 2023

Diorite or schist, c. 1500-1300 BC
Acc #: 118.71, James Logie Memorial Collection
Gift of Miss Eleanor M. Grantham

Egyptian Scarab

This Egyptian Scarab is made of a hard, fine-grained black diorite or schist with a well-polished surface. The base of the scarab is inscribed with a verse from the 30th chapter of the Book of the Dead. The inscription reads:

Spell of the Osiris, Royal Scribe and Overseer of Expeditions
Kaher, True of Voice; he says "My heart of my mother!"
My heart of my mother! My heart of different Ages!
Do not rise up as a witness against me before the Keeper of the Balance; Do not oppose me in the Great Court, for you are the ka [which was within my body] the protector…..”

This is a heart scarab, or a protective amulet for the heart and in the afterlife. The heart was always left in the mummified body. Egyptians believed that their hearts would be weighed against a feather in the underworld, to see if they were wicked or blameless.

Scarab beetles lay their eggs in dung and push them around as a ball in front of them. They were regarded by the Egyptians as a potent symbol of life, death and rebirth, and of the sun god Ra.

Heart Scarab
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