What does the scarab beetle mean in ancient Egypt?
Sometimes when we travel, we can really get to know other cultures, or indeed be surprised by traditions and symbols that we have heard about from others that we can’t believe until we see them first hand. This time we want to talk to you about what the scarab means in Egypt and why it has so much symbolism.
The scarab symbol appears very often in hieroglyphs, statues, and sculptures. When visiting monuments in Egypt, the familiar representation of the typical scarab beetle shape is everywhere, whether in drawings, statues, or on stone. But what does it mean, and what is the significance of this symbol? [ Read a full article about the famous ancient Egyptian symbols and their meaning ]
The scarab has been deified during Ancient Egypt. Its shape was related to the god Jepri in the graphic representation (human body and scarab face). However, normally, people referred to the scarab as Ra, the creator of the universe, one of the most important gods in the Egyptian pantheon.
The reason that the scarab is so often depicted in everything from hieroglyphs to jewelry, statues, and engravings is due to the popular belief that it was an amulet of protection against disease and death.
It was also interpreted as a symbol of resurrection. Not only did it protect those who wore it as an amulet while alive from illness, but when placed next to the dead it meant that they could be resurrected and thus attain eternal life.
The scarab beetle and mummification facts in ancient Egypt
During the mummification process, the heart of the deceased was often compared to a granite engraving in which several scarabs were carved. As I have already mentioned, it was a true belief that the protection of this amulet continued after death, when the deceased would meet Osiris. In this way, he could attain eternal life beyond the earthly one.
The scarab symbol is often engraved on the sarcophagi or tomb rooms in the Valley of the Kings and Queens at Luxor, as well as in other tombs around the country. This is a clear example of how the protection of the scarab as an amulet was believed to function.
The cult of this symbol, framed within the cult of death itself, was represented by a scarab that was usually carved in greenstone and placed on the chest of the deceased. The location was not accidenta, as in this way the scarab could protect the heart and replace it during mummification.
The purpose of this symbol, also known as the “heart scarab”, was to ensure that the heart would not testify against the deceased at the judgment of the dead. The texts on sarcophagi found with these amulets also state that the souls of the deceased could be reincarnated and thus reborn as humans, gods, or birds.
Even today it is still believed that the scarab functions as a good luck charm. In many markets in Egypt, you can buy small scarabs carved from lapis lazuli or other stones (usually bluish), which are sold to hang around your neck or carry in your wallet.
Famous questions and answers about the Scrab beetles in Ancient Egypt
What is the Egyptian scarab beetle?
- A dung beetle sacred to ancient Egyptians.
What is the significance of the Egyptian scarab beetle?
- Associated with the sun god, rebirth, transformation, and protection.
How did the ancient Egyptians use the scarab beetle?
- In amulets, jewellery, and tombs.
What are some famous examples of Egyptian scarabs?
- Heart Scarab of Tutankhamun, Scarab of Amenhotep III, Scarab of Thutmose III.
Where can I see Egyptian scarabs today?
- Many museums around the world, including the British Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.
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