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Scarab Jewelry

Before the first written hieroglyphs of history to Cleopatra's demise in 30 BC Egyptian jewelry was not just for adornment. It had other religious and magical purposes, such as the scarab for rebirth and renewal and the ankh amulet as a symbol of eternal life. Gold was the metal of choice for the pharaoh; it was thought to be the flesh of the sun-god Ra, and eternal. Silver was considered to be a form of white gold, and from Isis, goddess of the moon. It was often studded with stones, such as lapis, turquoise, and carnelian.

Scarabs were popular amulets in ancient Egypt. According to ancient Egyptian myths, the sun (Ra) rolls across the sky each day and transforms bodies and souls. Modeled upon the Scarabaeidae the scarab was seen as an earthly symbol of this heavenly cycle. This came to be iconographic, and ideological symbols were incorporated into ancient Egyptian society and later into jewelry.

scarab bracelet
A modern scarab produced for the tourist trade

Through different time periods, about 2000 years, the use of the scarabs became many and varied. As amulets, and a flat surface on the bottom (as a similar artifact of a paperweight), it became a surface with other utilitarian purposes. Other nations and regions, especially in the Levant, even came to reproduce Egyptian styles, or to adapt their use to their own gods or personal uses. They were also found asgrave goods, amulets, talismans, jewelry types, or gifts of affection.

ancient scarab

Beginning at the end of the First Intermediate Period scarabs became common. They were often incorporated into tombs, as grave goods, or given as 'gifts'. Early on they were used for sealing goods. In the late Middle Kingdom they often bear titles and names of officials. At this times they could also bear the names of kings. In this period they played an important part in the administration.

In the New Kingdom scarabs with titles and names of officials became rare. Amenhotep III is famous for his commemorative scarabs that memorialized events of his day. A type of these relates to his lion hunts in the first 10 years of his reign (with claims of extraordinary lion numbers); others of the series relates the building of 'the lake for his wife, Queen Tiye'.


* refrenced from Wikipedia