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Scarab with Bound Captive
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Scarab with Bound Captive

Description Provenance Inscription Credit
Description This light beige steatite scarab was originally glazed blue or green. The piece is inscribed on the flat underside with an image of a captive Libyan and a short column of hieroglyphics. The top of the piece is high with a detailed incised design. The workmanship is good and the piece is carefully made. This scarab functioned as a protective amulet and had royal connotations. It was originally mounted or threaded. The bottom motif refers to the royal control over all foreign countries and should ward off all dangers for its owner. It is imaginable that soldiers on an expedition or at the frontier used such amulets. The image of a fettered captive is a popular motif on scarabs, however, the figure of a captive is usually subordinate to the figure of a king. In this case, there is no representation of the king, only the short inscription, which refers to him. It is possible that such an amulet should provide magical protection for Egyptians traveling abroad or for Egyptian allies. The very round base and the style of the carvings are typical for the early 18th Dynasty.
Provenance Henry Walters, Baltimore, 1911 (?) [mode of acquisition unknown]; Walters Art Museum, 1931, by bequest.
Inscriptions [Translation] The sign order has been changed for aesthetic reasons, but the content is obvious. The figure of the captive has not only an iconic function, but it is also a determinative for the term "foreign lands.": Lord of all foreign lands.
Credit Acquired by Henry Walters, 1911 (?)

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ca. 1550 BCE (New Kingdom, Dynasty 18)
light beige steatite; glaze, originally blue or green (?)
(Precious Stones & Gems)
Accession Number
H: 1/4 x W: 1/2 x L: 9/16 in. (0.7 x 1.2 x 1.5 cm)
  • Egypt (Place of Origin)
Location Within Museum
Not On View


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