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.
Wood, animal remains
Dyansty 26 to Dynasty 30
Coffin with Lid: 1 7/16 × 1 15/16 × 3 1/8 in. (3.6 × 5 × 8 cm) (show scale)
Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund
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.
This item is not on view
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)
overall, unedited master file, 37.1368Ea-c_NegA_SL4.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
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Tell me more about Scarabs.
These scarabs represented the cycle of the sun and rebirth to the ancient Egyptians. Scarabs, also called dung beetles, create balls of dung, which were viewed as symbols of death and decay. They then rolled the balls of dung which, to the ancient Egyptians, mirrored the way the sun moving across the sky!
The wooden scarab here is actually a scarab coffin, as scarabs could be mummified to communicate with sun gods. The stone scarab is a heart scarab, an amulet that was buried with a mummy.