Glazed steatite scaraboid

British Museum

British Museum

The scarab had been used as a seal, sometimes mounted on a ring, as early as the First Intermediate Period (about 2160-2040 BC). From that time, the underside of seal scarabs often bore the name and titles of the owner. A few impressions in mud of such seals have survived. The form of the scarab was eventually lost, leaving both sides of the rectangular shape available for decoration.The name 'scaraboid' refers to the original shape of these seals. Scaraboids were used in the same way as scarab seals and were frequently used as bezels on signet rings. The obverse (front) of scaraboids was often decorated with creatures symbolizing fertility or regeneration. This tiny plaque, or scaraboid, is pierced from one short end to the other. The flat surfaces bear incised inscriptions. One side names the god Amun-Re, the other a private individual called Messuy, who is otherwise unknown. The choice of the name of Amun-Re in this instance might reflect a special affinity which Messuy felt with this god. He may perhaps have served in the priesthood of Amun-Re, or simply have been an inhabitant of Thebes, the town particularly associated with this god.

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  • Title: Glazed steatite scaraboid
  • Physical Dimensions: Thickness: 0.51cm; Length: 1.23cm; Width: 0.95cm
  • External Link: British Museum collection online
  • Technique: glazed
  • Registration number: 1914,0216.861
  • Place: Found/Acquired Egypt
  • Period/culture: New Kingdom
  • Material: steatite
  • Copyright: Photo: © Trustees of the British Museum
  • Acquisition: Purchased from Kyticas, Panayotis


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