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Scarab Coffin

Egyptian, Classical, Ancient Near Eastern Art

The scarab beetle lays its eggs in small balls of dung, which it sometimes moves into position with its forelegs. This action led to associating the scarab with the force that rolls the sun across the heavens. Because the word for scarab beetle in the Egyptian language contains the same consonants as the word for “to come into being,” the ancient Egyptians especially associated the scarab with the sun, when it newly comes into being every morning. Scarabs could therefore be mummified to make requests to the sun god.
MEDIUM Wood, animal remains
  • Reportedly From: Saqqara, Egypt
  • DATES 664–332 B.C.E.
    DYNASTY Dyansty 26 to Dynasty 30
    PERIOD Late Period
    DIMENSIONS Coffin with Lid: 1 7/16 × 1 15/16 × 3 1/8 in. (3.6 × 5 × 8 cm)  (show scale)
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    ACCESSION NUMBER 37.1368Ea-c
    CREDIT LINE Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund
    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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    CAPTION Scarab Coffin, 664–332 B.C.E. Wood, animal remains, Coffin with Lid: 1 7/16 × 1 15/16 × 3 1/8 in. (3.6 × 5 × 8 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 37.1368Ea-c. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 37.1368Ea-c_NegA_SL4.jpg)
    IMAGE overall, unedited master file, 37.1368Ea-c_NegA_SL4.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
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    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION The object is a small, simply carved, wooden coffin in the shape of a scarab. The object consists of three parts: the coffin body (a), coffin lid (b), and scarab animal remains (c). The scarab remains have been removed. The coffin consists of two parts the main, upper body, and a small, square lid on the bottom. The body is carved from a single piece of wood and has prominent, raised wood grain. A small rectangular cavity has been carved in the underside of the body where the animal remains would be placed. The coffin lid is a small flat rectangle which is pressure fit into the cavity in the body. Condition: The coffin is overall in fair, stable condition.
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