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Carved Blue Lapis Lazuli Scarab Beetle 2000BC $329.99 - SOLD

Ancient Egyptian Handcarved Blue Lapis Lazuli Scarab Beetle (of the God Kepri) and (Contemporary) 14kt Gold or Sterling Silver Chain.

PROVENANCE: Ancient Egypt, 11th Dynasty, Mentuhotep II, 2055-2004 B.C.

SIZE: 25mm in length, 18mm in width, 9mm thickness. WEIGHT: 7.08 grams (amulet only).

CHAIN: 60 centimeters (24 inches) contemporary 14kt gold electroplated chain. Also available are 14kt solid gold and sterling silver chains.

CONDITION: Excellent, entirely intact, exceptionally sharp detail preserved. Professionally conserved.

DETAIL: A 4,000 year hand carved midnight blue lapis lazuli 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 gold-flecked (iron pyrite) lapis lazuli, a highly favored semi-precious gemstone not only Ancient Egypt, but in ancient Mesopotamia as well. Evidence suggests that lapis lazuli has been utilized as a gemstone for at least 10,000 years, making it along with pearls, turquoise, carnelian, and amber amongst the “oldest” gemstones utilized by ancient cultures for decorative purposes. This carved scarab beetle possesses glittering highlights of golden iron pyrite inclusions ("fools gold"). The ancient city of Ur had a thriving trade in lapis lazuli as early as the fourth millennium B.C., and it seems likely it might have been the source of lapis lazuli for the ancient Egyptians.

Following the ancient Egyptians and Sumerians, the ancient Sumerian, Greek, and Roman cultures also highly favored lapis lazuli. Renaissance artists used ground lapis as pigment for the fabulous blue in the era’s masterpieces of art. Still very popular in Eastern Europe, the columns of St. Isaac's Cathedral are lined with lapis, and the Pushkin Palace (both in St. Petersburg) has lapis lazuli paneling! This exquisite amulet was hand carved from lapis lazuli over 4,000 years ago. We can mount the amulet on your choice of a sterling silver or 14kt gold electroplated chain at no additional cost. The amulet is shown here mounted to a 24 inch 14kt gold electroplated chain. If you prefer we also have available solid sterling silver and solid 14kt gold chains in various lengths from 18 to 24 inches. Whether in gold or silver, the amulet is quite striking, and can be worn with elegance and distinction.

CONSTRUCTION: The amulet is carved from a single piece of blue lapis lazuli. In addition to being very beautiful, lapis was soft enough to be easily worked (cut, polished, drilled, carved), but hard enough to be quite durable. This specimen is intricately carved, even to the finer details of the little legs and carapace seams. Being constructed of semi-precious lapis lazuli, it is very well preserved. 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 forty 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 an ancient 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. The manufacture of amulets and the application of the magic spells for the benefit of the deceased, were almost always overseen by Egyptian priests.

Most ancient jewelry typically used one or more of three gemstones; carnelian, turquoise, and lapis lazuli. Some of the most splendid ancient jewelry ever unearthed by archaeologists was found in Queen Pu-abi's tomb at Ur in Sumeria dating from the 3rd millennium B.C., and in the ancient Egyptian Pharaoh Tutankhamen's tomb. In Queen Pu-abi’s crypt she was laid to rest covered with a robe of gold, silver, lapis lazuli, carnelian, agate, and chalcedony beads. The lower edge of the robe was decorated with a fringed border of small gold, carnelian, and lapis lazuli cylinders. Near her right arm were three long gold pins with lapis lazuli heads, and three amulets in the shape of fish. Two of the fish amulets were made of gold and the third was lapis lazuli. On the queen's head were three diadems each featuring lapis lazuli. The famous mask covering the head of Tutankhamen's mummy was inlaid primarily in lapis lazuli, with accents of turquoise and carnelian. Many other pieces of jewelry and various amulets fashioned from lapis lazuli were also found within the tomb. Lapis lazuli was also certainly popular in 3,100 B.C. with the Egyptians who used it in medicines, pigments, eye shadow, and of course, jewelry. Lapis lazuli has also been used since ancient times for mosaics and other inlaid work, carved amulets, vases, and other objects.

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 scarab'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 scarab beetle with renewal, rebirth and resurrection. The scarab'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 scarab 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 2,500 and 4,500 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.

The antiquities offered were originally part of a collection accumulated throughout most of the twentieth century. The Roman artifacts were found principally in Romania (literally "land of the Romans"), Bulgaria, and Syria. The Sumerian artifacts were unearthed in both Turkey and Syria, which along with Iraq and Iran constituted the majority of the sites of the ancient Sumerian civilizations. The Egyptian antiquities were part of a collection amassed in the mid-1960's, at the height of Soviet influence in Egypt. As well, additional specimens are occasionally acquired from other institutions and dealers in Eastern Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean.

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."