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Questions about Egyptian Scarabs

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Hi all;
I have 5 questions about ancient Egyptian Scarabs:
1-Are all with complete hole?
2-Is there some scarab in stone with curved bottom like a cylinder seal?
3-How we can identify fake Scarabs made from colored stone ;like lapis lazuli,chalcedony;amethyst,glass,rock-crystal?
4-Material of hear scarab?is there a hole?
5-What about button scarab in faience,the differences with usual scarab in faience?
Thanks in advance for all your help

Hi Nassif,
     Let's do one question at a time.
1.  Holes in scarabs. Most scarabs were suspended from string, and wires; or mounted in swivel rings. so they were drilled along their longitudinal axis, very rarely across the longitudinal axis. If a scarab was to be made from faience,  a terra cotta (clay) mold was made, in two pieces - the bottom and top halves - and a rod, perhaps a pieces of copper or even wax covered string was laid between the two halves The faience was poured into the mold and when the faience dried, the scarab was removed, glazed and fired. Some scarabs and amulets are referred to as"kiln wasters" - something happened in the kiln and the scarabs were spoiled. Sometimes, the hole was filled with molten glaze and the scarab could not be threaded - thus a scarab or amulet with an incomplete hole. The vast majority of steatite and hard stone scarabs were drilled half way through from both ends and met in the middle. Often times, the drilling was not very precise and you could see how the drills strayed in translucent or clear stones like rock crystal, amethyst, carnelian, etc. The holes at each end tend to be wide in diameter and taper as the drill proceeded into the stone. The drill moved, it drifted a bit until a dimple or hollow was formed in the stone; once the drill bit was seated, drilling could be more accurate. The drill bit was probably a copper or soft bronze rod, tapped into emery or hard quartz sand. As the emery imbedded in the copper was rotated by the bow drill, the harder sand cut into the softer material. There are exceptions to every rule - scarabs made for pharaohs show just how accurate royal artisans could be. Some scarabs have no holes, these were to be inlayed into another material or were to be inserted between mummy bandages. Naturally, the hugh temple scarabs measuring about 3 x 5 feet were not drilled.

2.  I'm not too sure of the question... some naturalistic scarabs, also referred to as "scarabs with legs" (made between the Late Period and perhaps Roman times) are slightly convex. I know of no scarabs with concave bases.

3.  This one is difficult to answer. Let me put it to you this way. If I showed you 100 authentic hardstone scarabs, then showed you another hundred and added a few fakes, you would probably be able to pick out the fakes. Some hardstone fakes reflect the period in which they were made. A popular style was called "art deco" and they were probably made to be reproductions, during the 1920's and 1930's. True fakes are another story. These were made to deceive, some were very well done, others are easily detected. Sometimes, fakers are usually inspired by the insulting behavior of scholars, dealers or collectors who believe they know everything about everything. Knowledge should not promote conceit; knowledge should produce humility; a mind that is not open is not scholarly.

4.  Heart scarabs were made from various materials. The majority of heart scarabs are inscribed with Chapter XXXb of the Book of the Dead, but other chapters or spells were also used. Many of these chapters or spells were preceeded by headings or introductions called rubrics. An Old Kingdom rubric reads in part "Words to be spoken over a scarab of green stone encircled with wasmu metal with its ring of silver..." If a heart scarab was to be mounted in a gold bezel, there would be no need to drill it Up until the XVIIIth Dynasty, most heart scarabs were made of durite, schist and green glazed steatite and faience. In fact, one of King Tut's two heart scarabs was made of resin and inlayed with a glass mosaic. From the XVIIIth dynasty and later, other stones were also used.

5.  If you are referring to "naturalistic scarabs" or "scarabs with legs", they are of five types: The scarab back, made from different materials; the falcon/hawk headed, almost always made from lapis lazuli; the human headed, very rare; the four rams heads headed scarab, very rare; and the bull headed, made from basalt(/) or black faience.

  I hope this helps.

Thanks Russ a lot for all your great help indeed;i still have something to ask you about scarabs;
*regarding question 2:i mean if there is scarab with incised bottom revealing scenes,human & animals like we can see with seals and cylinders[for exp;king seated or fighting against animals,or mythological scenes?..]..from up it's scarab,and the bottom is as seals or cylinders curved...
*regarding question 5 with button scarab,they have holes in the back and have been used to complete a necklace collar of amulets,so the suspension should be from the a button
*last question: is there any authentic collar necklace or pectoral maid from several egyptian faience amulets and scarab button between?i have seen one...with huge djed pillar in the middle,two triadic amulets and series of faience amulets and small djed pillars...i was not authorized to take photos...
I hope ,i don't bother you with my questions,as you know i am coin's collector,and start since few weeks to be interested by egyptian amulets in faience & scarabs,..
Thanks again for your very valuable help

Hi Nassif,

     Ancient Egyptian design motifs are not like Babylonian, etc. in that there are no depictions of Gilgamesh and Enkidu, or gods fighting beasts. The ancient Egyptian repertoire includes "Smiting" scenes in which the pharaoh ceremoniously kills bound captives. The are scenes of pharaohs worshiping obelisks, and during the Hyksos period (15th to 17th Dynasties) there are scarabs with humans, crocodiles or lions in the field, the designs are usually too vague to tell who is doing what to whom.

     The so-called button scarabs are a variation of naturalistic scarabs (or scarabs with legs) and the button-like loop on the back is so that the scarab could be sewn to the mummy bandages.

     Heart scarabs were sometimes set into pectorals, usually one piece faience objects that are architectural in form. I have never seen anything with other amulets inlayed into it.

     I hope this helps.


"3-How we can identify fake Scarabs made from colored stone ;like lapis lazuli,chalcedony;amethyst,glass,rock-crystal?"

An old Egyptian antiquities dealer maxim: "Squeeze a few drops of lemon juice on it. If it moves, it is authentic."


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