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Scarab with Wish Formula
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Scarab with Wish Formula

Description Provenance Inscription Credit
Description The ancient Egyptians believed that the dung beetle, the Scarabaeus sacer, was one of the manifestations of the sun god. Representations of these beetles were used as amulets, and for ritual or administrative purposes. This scarab has a bottom inscription, which is framed by an oval line. It is contains a wish formula, which focuses on the young recruits in the army group under the name of the god Seth. The Seth-hieroglyph is the most dominant sign in the whole inscription. The hieroglyphs are executed in sunk relief; the layout is not very well organized, and some hieroglyphs collide with the borderline, which is inconsistent and overlaps twice in the upper part. The Seth-animal has an unusual, elongated shape and a very long snout; the ears are not Seth-like, but canine. Nevertheless, the typical tail identifies the animal as Seth. The highest point of the flat back is the partition between pronotum (dorsal plate of the prothorax) and elytron (wingcases). Pronotum and elytron have incised borderlines, single separation lines, and V-shaped marks for humeral callosities (shoulder thickenings). The semicircular head is flanked by quarter oval eyes; the side plates are irregularly trapezoidal, and clypeus has four frontal serrations. The proportions of the top are well balanced. The raised, somewhat stocky extremities have natural form, and three vertical hatch notches for the tibial teeth. The background between the legs is hollowed out. The shape of the base is symmetrically round-oval. The scarab is longitudinally pierced, was originally mounted or threaded, and served as an amulet with a special blessing for young soldiers. The scarab should secure the support and protection of the powerful god Seth for the young recruits of the army. It is also possible that the phrase was used as a name for a military group of recruits. Seth and his powerful protection became popular during the Ramesside Period, and it is understandable that especially the young recruits of the army needed his special protection.
Provenance Henry Walters, Baltimore, 1911 (?) [mode of acquisition unknown]; Walters Art Museum, 1931, by bequest.
Inscriptions [Translation] May the recruits of Seth be satisfied.
Credit Acquired by Henry Walters, 1911 (?)

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ca. 1186-736 BCE (Late New Kingdom-Third Intermediate Period)
light beige steatite
(Precious Stones & Gems)
Accession Number
H: 5/16 x W: 1/2 x L: 5/8 in. (0.8 x 1.2 x 1.6 cm)
  • Egypt (Place of Origin)
Location Within Museum
Not On View


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