Carved Ancient Egypt Soapstone Scarab Beetle Ring 600BC $199.99 - SOLD
Ancient Egyptian Handcarved Soapstone Scarab Beetle (of the God Kepri) and Contemporary Ring.
CLASSIFICATION: Steatite Faience Amulet.
ATTRIBUTION: Ancient Egypt, 26th Dynasty, Psammetichus I, 664-610 B.C.
SIZE: Amulet: 17mm in length, 12mm in width, 8 1/2mm thickness.
WEIGHT: 2.49 grams (amulet only).
CONDITION: Excellent, faience glaze mostly intact, exceptionally sharp detail preserved. Professionally conserved.
CONTEMPORARY RING: A variety of sterling silver settings in common (whole) sizes to select from (see here) . Custom sizing available upon request. 14kt gold settings available upon request.
AMULET IMAGES: Additional images of the amulet before setting are available below.
DETAIL: A 2,500 year hand carved steatite (soapstone) scarab, a manifestation of the ancient Egyptian God "Kepri", similar in form to the scarabs portrayed in the blockbuster movies Mummy and The Mummy Returns. The amulet is constructed of steatite, a soft mineral also known as soapstone, which was then treated with a turquoise colored faience (quartz/natron) glaze. This exquisitely preserved amulet is shown here mounted into a contemporary sterling silver ring. Included at no additional cost for the winner will be his or her choice of a sterling silver setting ( see here ) in a variety of standard (whole) sizes. Upon request both custom sizes and 14kt gold settings are available as well.
CONSTRUCTION: The amulet is carved soapstone. Faience glazed soapstone was much favored by the ancient Egyptians, who associated the blue-green coloration with the color of the sacred Nile River, giver of life to all of ancient Egypt. Such specimens are generally intricately carved, even to the finer details of the little legs and carapace seams. The amulets are typically quite exquisite, and being of soapstone are most often well preserved. The underside of the beetle is also carved with ancient hieroglyphics, typically a brief prayer, often related to the weighing of a deceased's heart against the feather of Ma'at to determine where he or she was worthy of an afterlife. Scarab amulets were the focal point of many pieces of ancient Egyptian jewelry, including pedants, bracelets, as well as rings.
Faience amulets and beads were produced in ancient Egypt by crushing quartz mixed with copper, which was then made into a paste. The paste was then placed in a mold, and then fired. The quartz would fuse, and the copper would give the resulting product a color with blue and/or green hues, which was favored by the ancient Egyptians as the color of the Nile River. Faience glaze was applied to soapstone using a natron solution. Given the passage of twenty-five centuries, it is not uncommon for such amulets to have lost all or most their glassy faience glaze. Most amulets of this style will retain some or most of the original turquoise green or blue faience glaze. And the color ranges from a bright turquoise all the way through a khaki-like dark green. Specimens with all of the faience glaze intact while not rare, are nonetheless the exception, not the rule.
Amulets such as these, even though assuredly ancient, were "mass produced" for the populace at large. It is worth noting that the exceptional condition of an artifact often not only takes into account the state of preservation, but oftentimes can also be due to the superior workmanship and artistic qualities present in the finished amulet. The detail and technique present in the finished amulet is a reflection of a skilled artisan of that distant past who left a living testament to his craftsmanship, which still speaks of his pride and abilities over twenty-five centuries later. Conversely, a poorly skilled artisan might produce an amulet which even today may easily be recognized as an inferior product, often not much more than a crudely shaped lump of material, poorly featured with coarse detail.
HISTORY: One of the greatest civilizations of recorded history was ancient Egypt. For a mere hundred dollars or thereabouts, you can possess a small part of that great civilization in the form of a 2,500 year old amulet. These magical talismans are amongst the most sought after and highly collectible artifacts from ancient Egypt. Religion was very important to the ancient Egyptians, and they worshipped many gods. These gods and goddesses often represented the natural world, such as the sky, earth, sun, or wind. The gods took the form of animals or animal/human figures. The ancient Egyptians wore amulets, small representations of these gods, as magical charms to ward off danger. They believed that these amulets, or talismans, would not only protect them in life, but in death as well, and would endow the individual wearing them with magical powers and capabilities.
While religious beliefs in ancient Egypt played a very important role in life, they played an even larger role in death. The ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead prescribed 104 different types of amulets be buried with the mummy in order to protect the deceased on his or her journey into the afterlife. Typically pinned to or wrapped within their burial shroud, it was not uncommon to find even thousands of amulets in the possession of the mummified remains of more prominent members of that ancient civilization. Typically when mummifying the deceased, there could be as many as 80 layers of linen, and it was not unusual to place at least one amulet representation of each of the more significant deities within each layer.
Amulets were made in many sizes and of many materials, including terracotta, wood, stone, bronze, silver, gold, occasionally precious gemstones, but most often of "faience". Faience was the forerunner of modern glass, and was manufactured by the Egyptians as far back as 4000 B.C. Faience is composed of ground quartz and sand together with a coloring agent. Although faience was made in many different colors, most often the coloring agent used was copper ore, which would impart a turquoise blue or turquoise green color. Made into a paste, the mixture of silica and coloring agent(s) it was pressed into molds, and then fired in an oven. When baked, the quartz would migrate as a glaze to the surface of the amulet within the mold. When the mold was opened, the amulet would have a smooth, glassy surface.
If colored with copper ore, the resulting product would typically be a shade between deep cobalt blue and pale emerald or jade green. The manufacture of amulets and the application of the magic spells for the benefit of the deceased, were almost always overseen by Egyptian priests. With respect to this particular form of amulet, the scarab played a very important role in the spiritual beliefs of ancient Egypt. The scarab is a type of dung beetle common throughout Egypt. The dung beetle's habit of laying eggs in animal dung, rolled into balls and pushed across the ground, was noticed by the Egyptians. The subsequent hatching of the eggs led to the Egyptians associating the dung beetle with renewal, rebirth and resurrection.
As well, the dung beetle's habit of rolling up dung and pushing it across the ground eventually caused them to be associated with ancient Egyptian "Sun God" Khepri. Khepri was conceived by the ancient Egyptians as a gigantic beetle rolling the Sun before him across the sky. Khepri was believed to renew the sun each day before rolling it above the horizon and carrying it through the under world after sunset. Khepri was variously represented as a scarab, a man with the face of a scarab and a man whose head was surmounted by a scarab. Thus the sun beetle, giving light and warmth, became a popular amulet and was placed in tombs as a symbol of new life.
Amulets from ancient Egypt were buried typically for between 2,000 and 3,500 years before being unearthed inside of tombs within the last century or two. Amulets typically are between one-half and two inches in size. Amulets were extremely important to the ancient Egyptians, a focal point of both their life and their belief in the hereafter. Amulets were oftentimes worn about the neck by the ancient Egyptians, typically on a beaded necklace. The beads were most often faience beads, in colors ranging from tan to pale jade green to cobalt blue. Though the material used to string the necklaces disappeared in the eons passed while buried within the tombs of Egypt, the beads themselves survived. Oftentimes these necklaces are restrung on modern filaments, and then offered as a matching set with an amulet which can be worn or displayed with pride.
These antiquities come from a number of collections which by and large originated here in Eastern Europe. As well, additional specimens are occasionally acquired from other institutions and dealers, principally in Eastern Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean. All of these artifacts are now in the United States and are available for immediate delivery via U.S. Mail. Proceeds of the sales benefit the Southern Urals State Student Association for Archaeological and Anthropological Studies in Russia; providing both postgraduate and undergraduate students with meaningful part-time employment, notebook computers, and both reference and study materials. It also supports other institutions and organizations within Russia involved in the study of anthropology and archaeology. All purchases are backed by an unlimited guarantee of satisfaction and authenticity. If for any reason you are not entirely satisfied with your purchase, you may return it for a complete and immediate refund of your entire purchase price.
SHIPPING: These antiquities come from a number of collections which by and large originated here in Eastern Europe. As well, additional specimens are occasionally acquired from other institutions and dealers, principally in Eastern Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean. All of these artifacts are now in the United States and are available for immediate delivery via U.S. Mail. All purchases are backed by an unlimited guarantee of satisfaction and authenticity. If for any reason you are not entirely satisfied with your purchase, you may return it for a complete and immediate refund of your entire purchase price. A certificate of authenticity (COA) is available upon request.
Our order fulfillment center near Seattle, Washington will ship your purchase within one business day of receipt of your personal check or money order. If you wish to pay electronically, we accept both PayPal and BidPay. However we ask that you PLEASE WAIT before remitting until we have mutually agreed upon method of shipment and shipping charges and you understand our PayPal limitations and policies (stated here). We will ship within one business day of our receipt of your electronic remittance.
A certificate of authenticity (COA) is available upon request. We prefer your personal check or money order over any other form of payment - and we will ship immediately upon receipt of your check (no "holds"). Please see our "ADDITIONAL TERMS OF SALE."