Page images

their heads; these, of course, represent the hawk of Horus. The Phænician inscription gives the naine Eliâm. The latter is inscribed with a beetle in a square frame, and on the right and left is an uræus ; each end of the perpendicular sides of the frame terminates in fânch

, and above and below it is a figure of Rā, or Horus, hawk-headed, holding a sceptre

ย The name, inscribed in Phænician characters, is “Mersekem.” In 1891, while carrying on excavations at Dêr, a place about three and a half hours to the south-west of Bagdad, I obtained a steatite scarab inscribed with an uræus

Scarabs in

Babylonia. ânch f, and an illegible sign, together with an oval green transparent Gnostic gem inscribed with the lion-headed serpent XNOYBIC. Both objects were probably brought from Lower Egypt, and belong to a period after the birth of Christ.

Dr. Birch describes in Nineveh and Babylon (London, Scarabs 1853, pp. 281, 282) a series of eleven scarabs which Sir Henry Arbân. Layard dug up at Arbân, a mound situated on the western bank of the Khabûr, about two and a half days' journey north of Dêr on the Euphrates, and about ten miles east of the 'Abd el-'Aziz hills. With one exception they are all made of steatite, glazed yellow or green or blue. Two of them are inscribed with the prenomen of Thothmes III. (Nos. 304, 309) ? ; one bears the prenomen of Amenophis III. (No 320), with the titles “beautiful god, lord of two lands, crowned in every land”; one is inscribed

Olohu ne men Chepera at Amen, “established of Cheperá, emanation of Amen”


(No. 322) ; two are inscribed flað (No. 303) and if

(No. 318), and belong to the same period ; one is inscribed Scarabs with a hawk-headed lion and a hawk (No. 273) ; one bears Arbán. the legend," beautiful lord, lord of two lands," i.e., the North and South (No. 321); one is inscribed with a human-headed

found at

1 The numbers are G. 475 and 24,314.

? These interesting objects are exhibited in the Assyrian and Babylonian Room, in the Northern Gallery of the British Museum.

beetle, with outstretched wings, in the field are uræi and 17 of beautiful workmanship (No. 302); and one is inscribed with o

-ßand an uræus having to on its head (No. 307). The scarab in hæmatite (No. 313) is inscribed with the figure of a king seated on a throne, and a man standing before him in adoration ; between them is f. With the exception of this last scarab, it is pretty certain that all belong to the period of the XVIIIth dynasty, for they have all the appearance of such antiquity, and they possess all the delicacy of workmanship found upon scarabs of this time. The design on the hæmatite scarab appears to be a copy from an Egyptian scarab executed by a foreign workman, but it may be that the hardness of the material made the task of engraving so difficult, that the character of the design was altered in consequence. The presence of these scarabs at Arbân is not difficult to account for. Thothmes I., one of the early kings of the XVIIIth dynasty, carried his victorious arms into Mesopotamia, and set up a tablet to mark the boundary of the Egyptian territory at a place called Nî, on the Euphrates, and the authority of the Egyptians in that land was so great that when Thothmes III. arrived there several years after, he found the tablet still standing. The kings who immediately succeeded Thothmes I. marched into this land, and that their followers should take up quarters on the fertile banks of the Khabûr, and leave behind them scarabs and other relics, is not to be wondered at. The antiquities found at Arbân are of a very miscellaneous character, and, among other things, include an Assyrian colossus inscribed "Palace of Meshezib-Marduk the king" (B.C. 700), and a Chinese glass bottle inscribed with a verse of the Chinese poet KEỈN-TAU, A.D. 827-831 ; it is possible that the scarabs described above may have been brought there at a period subsequent to the XVIIIth dynasty, but, in any case, the objects themselves appear to belong to this period.

The Gnostics inscribed the scarab on the gems worn by them, and partly adopted the views concerning it held by the

Use scarab by the Gnostics.

| British Museum, No. N. 1380.

Egyptians. On an oval slab of green granite,' in the British Museum, is inscribed a scarab encircled by a serpent having his tail in his mouth. The same design is found on another oval, but the beetle has a human head and arms; above the head are rays, and above that the legend EIAAMY ; to the right is a star, to the left a star and crescent, and beneath the hind legs three stars.

The scarab is an antiquity which is readily bought from the native of Egypt by modern travellers of every nationality ; it is easily carried, and is largely worn as an ornament by ladies in their necklaces, bracelets and rings, and by men in pins and rings. As the number of visitors to Egypt has been Modern

manufac. steadily increasing for many years past, it follows of necessity ture of that the demand for scarabs has increased also, and the price scarabs. of these objects has risen in proportion. The late Sir Gardner Wilkinson, during one of his visits to Egypt, anchored his dhahabiyyeh : opposite Ķûrnah at Thebes, and in the afternoon a native brought him a bag full of scarabs, many hundreds in number, which he had that day taken out of the ground in a tomb from under the coffin of a mummy. These scarabs were of a fine green colour and made of steatite; they were all inscribed with the name and titles of Thothmes III. Sir Gardner Wilkinson bought a handful of these for an English pound, but each scarab might now easily be sold for two pounds. The supply of scarabs varies year by year, some years but few are to be had, and some years they are very common. The supply cannot be inexhaustible, although the demand for them appears to be so. The native has discovered Modern that the European not only wants scarabs, but that he wants scarabs inscribed with the names of particular kings; and as scarabs. these are not always forthcoming, he has found out the way to make them. The imitation of scarabs by the modern native of Egypt began about sixty years ago. At first the number produced was few, and they were so clumsily made that it was soon apparent that they were forgeries. In later

manufacture of

' G. 455, Table-Case N, Fourth Egyptian Room.
? G. 483, Table-Case N, Fourth Egyptian Room.

.ذهبية Arab •

3 Arab.


days, however, the native has brought skill and thought to
bear upon the matter, and he sets about his work in a syste-

He has seen what the old faïence scarabs are made of, and he can now make a paste very much like that of which they are made. From the old broken ushabtiu

figures, scarabs and beads, he chips off the thin layer of Process of green or blue covering for his use. A large number of modern manufac.

genuine moulds for scarabs have been found, and from ture of

these and others which he makes like them, he turns out scarabs.

large numbers of scarabs ready for glazing. For glaze he uses the pieces which he has collected from broken genuine scarabs, etc., and he spreads this over the paste with a blow-pipe. When he wishes to make steatite scarabs he obtains the steatite from the mountains where the ancient Egyptians found it. There is a large amount of artistic skill in many natives, and with a little practice they are able to cut very good scarabs. The discoloration of the genuine scarab is easily imitated by keeping them in wet sand, earth and ashes, and if he wants to glaze them he makes use of the same method as in glazing his paste forgeries. For inscriptions he usually follows slavishly those inscribed on genuine scarabs, of which he keeps a good supply. In this matter, however, he is greatly helped by the act of an English traveller, who wrote out for one of these imitators a list of all the most important kings of Egypt! which he now imitates with great success. He sells hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of his scarabs yearly, and many of them bring a high price. One has only to see the excellent way in which some of the natives can make a fine and correct reproduction in stone from a sculpture in a tomb or temple, to understand how well the native can imitate such things. Colours and other materials and tools can now be easily obtained in Egypt, and through the support of numerous purchasers who have bought readily for some years past, the production of forgeries of antiquities in general, and of scarabs in particular, has become

I And this, notwithstanding the statement, “Generally speaking, forgeriesexcept of one or two obvious kinds—are very rare, and there is nothing like the amount of doubt in the matter which is often supposed to exist." Petrie, Hislorical Scarabs, p. 6.


a very profitable business. At more than one place in Egypt Modern scarabs, bronze figures, etc., etc., have been so well imitated ture of that experts were deceived and purchased them. Genuine antiquiushabtiu figures and bronze statues of gods are cast in moulds found among the ruins of ancient Egyptian towns, wooden Ptah-Seker-Ausår figures and boats are made from the planks of old coffins, and as it is evident that the substance itself is genuine, the unwary collector is thrown off his guard. In certain dealers' houses at Thebes and elsewhere, the visitor will always find a large assortment of forgeries, even on the tables set apart for genuine antiquities, and he will be able to compare and judge for himself.

The reverence shown by the Egyptians to the scarab, as an emblem of the Creator, was not shared by neighbouring nations. Thus Physiologus, after describing how scarabs roll Physioloup their eggs in balls of dung, and how they push them scarabæus. backwards, and how the young having come to life feed upon the dung in which they are hatched, goes on to say that we may learn of a certainty that scarabs are heretics 1 who are polluted by the filth of heresies; that these balls, which are formed of filth and nastiness, and which they roll backwards and not forwards, are the evil thoughts of their heresies, which are formed of wickedness and sin, and which they roll against mankind, until they become children of error, and by being participators in the filth of their heresies they become other beings and like unto them. See Land, Anecdota

gus on the

1 The ignorance of the habits and manner of life of the scarabæus which is displayed by certain Syrian writers upon natural history is marvellous ; here is a specimen : “The scarabæus receiveth conception through its mouth, and when it cometh to bring forth, it giveth birth to its young through its ears. It hath the habit of stealing, and wherever it findeth small things and things of gold and silver it taketh and hideth them in its hole. And if pulse be found in the house it taketh [it] and mixeth [it] up with (other) things, chick.peas with beans, and beans with lentils, rice with millet and wheat, and everything which it findeth it mixeth up together in the place where it hideth itself. It thus doeth the work of the cooks who mix such things together to make to stumble those who buy pulse at the shops. And if any man taketh note of it and smiteth it, it taketh its vengeance upon [his] clothing. If having collected pieces of money and taken them forth to the race-course or to play with them, they be taken away from it, it wandereth about and turneth hither and thither, and if it findeth them not it straightway killeth itself.” Ahrens, Das Buch der Naturgegenstände, text, p. 41, translation, p. 62.

« PreviousContinue »