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the ends of a clip which served as a holder. When the seal-cylinder was first used by pre-dynastic sealers it was rolled over moist mud by the flat of the hand, but their successors found that they obtained a better and more even impression if they inserted a metal rod in the cylinder and held that tightly at each end when they rolled the cylinder over the mud placed to receive the impression. Some of the seal-cylinders of the VIth dynasty resemble sections of copper tubes, and it is possible that they had cores that fitted into some kind of frame. A picture of the seal-cylinder being rolled over the mud is preserved in the hieroglyph Q, shen, the circle representing the end of the cylinder, and the line the mud. The Egyptians of the Old Kingdom seem to have thought that this sign represented a signet ring, as have some modern Egyptologists, and later it was regarded and treated as the bezel of a ring.1 The seal-cylinder was sometimes kept in a box, but it was more commonly attached by the rod inside it, or by its frame, when it had one, to a string or necklace and worn by the owner. The seal with its string or necklace is represented by the hieroglyphs and ; the phonetic value of

the former is khetem,

Q, and the word means both the seal and the impression, but the value of the latter seems to be unknown. The finest and handsomest seal-cylinders were made under the VIth, XIIth and XIIIth dynasties. The use of them decayed under the New Kingdom, but it was revived under the XXVIth dynasty. Reproductions of all the important seal-cylinders will be found in Hall, Catalogue, p. 261 ff., and Newberry, Scarabs, pll. II-VIII.


SCARAB (also Scarabe and Scarabee)2 is the name given by Egyptologists to the model of a certain beetle, of which myriads of examples of various sizes and of various materials have been found in mummies, and coffins, and tombs, and in the ruins of temples and other buildings in Egypt. They have also been found in other countries, the inhabitants of which from a remote period had trading and other relations with the Egyptians. The name is derived from the Latin scarabaeus or scarabeus, a beetle of the genus Lamellicorn; the Greek name of this beetle is κάραβος, and the forms σκαράβιος and σκάραβος are said to be of doubtful authenticity. The particular beetle of which the Egyptians made so many myriads of models belongs to the family called by naturalists Scarabaeidae (Coprophagi, or dung-feeders) of which Scarabaeus sacer is the type. What views the primitive

1 Hall, Catalogue of Egyptian Scarabs, p. x.
2 For plurals compare

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Battening like scarabs in the dung of peace," Massinger, Duke of Milan, III, 1; and You are scarabees that batten in her dung," Beaumont and Fletcher, Elder Brother, IV, 1; and "I scorn all earthly dung-bred scarabies," Drayton, Idea, XXXI.

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Egyptians held concerning this beetle we do not know, and judging by the descriptions of it which we find in the works of certain Greek writers, the Greeks cannot have had any real knowledge of this beetle's ways and habits. Aelian, who calls it xáv@apos, says that it had no female, ǎonu Çŵóv éσTI (De Nat. Animal. X, XV, ed. Didot, p. 172), and Porphyry says that all the beetles were males káv@apos yaρ πâs арpην (De Abstinentia, IV, 9, ed. Didot, p. 74). According to Horapollo, the Egyptians, when they wished to write the expression "only-begotten," drew the picture of a beetle Movoryevés Kávlaρov wypаpovo, for the creature is self-produced, being unconceived by a female, μονογενὲς μὲν ὅτι αὐτογενές ἐστι τὸ ζῶον, ὑπὸ θηλείας μὴ κυοφορούμενον. The beetle also represented generation," "father," "world" and "man," and Horapollo goes on to say that when the male is desirous of procreating, he takes some ox dung and shapes it into a spherical form like the world. He next rolls it from east to west, looking himself towards the east. Having dug a hole, he buries the ball in it for twenty-eight days; on the twenty-ninth day he opens the ball and throws it into the water, and from it the scarabaei come forth. The idea of generation arises from its supposed acts. The scarabaeus denotes a father because it is engendered by a father only, and world because in its generation it is fashioned in the form of the world, and man because there is no female race among them. There are three species of scarabaei. The first has the form of a cat and has thirty toes, which correspond to the thirty days of the month. The second has two horns and is in the form of a bull, and was associated with the moon, and the third has only one horn, and, like the ibis, was associated with Mercury.1 The scarabaeus, as an "only begotten" creature, seems to have attracted the notice of Christian writers, and one of them likens it to Christ as the Only begotten of His Father.2

On the whole, modern naturalists, until comparatively lately, seem to have been inclined to accept many of the statements about the scarabaeus sacer made by ancient writers. Latreille, in the Appendix to Cailliaud's Voyage à Méroé, Paris, 1823–27, identified the scarabaeus sacer with the species that he named Ateuchus Aegyptiorum or λokáv@apos. Mr. J. O. Westwood



1 Horapollinis Niloi Hieroglyphica, ed. Leemans, Amsterdam, 1835, p. 11. 2 See the exposition of St. Luke's Gospel by Ambrose, Bishop of Milan (Opera, Paris edition, 1686, tom. I, col. 1528, No. 113), 'Vermis in cruce: scarabeus in cruce et bonus vermis qui haesit in ligno bonus scarabeus qui clamavit è ligno. Quid clamavit? Domine, ne statuas illis hoc peccatum. Clamavit latroni: Hodie mecum eris in paradiso. Clamavit quasi scarabeus: Deus, Deus meus, quare me dereliquisti ? Et bonus scarabeus qui lutum corporis nostri ante informe ac pigrum virtutum versabat vestigiis: bonus scarabeus, qui de stercore erigit pauperem."

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3 Tom. II, p. 311. Cet insecte est d'un vert parfois éclatant; son corselet est nuancé d'une teinte cuivreuse à reflet métallique." Compare Aelian, De Nat. Animal. IV, 49; Aristotle, Hist. Animal. IV, 7; Pliny, Nat. Hist., XI, 20 ff. and XXIX, 6.

said that the species were usually black, but that among them were some that were adorned with the richest metallic colours. Having described the peculiarity of the structure and situation of the hind legs, he points out that this peculiar formation was most serviceable to its possessors in rolling the balls of excrementitious matter in which they enclose their eggs; whence these insects were named by the first naturalists "Pilulariae." These balls are at first irregular and soft, but by degrees, and during the process of rolling along, become rounded and harder; they are propelled by means of the hind legs. These balls are from 1 inches to 2 inches in diameter, and in rolling them along the beetles stand almost upon their heads, with them turned from the balls. These manœuvres have for their object the burying of the balls in holes, which the insects have previously dug for their reception; and it is upon the dung thus deposited that the larvae, when hatched, feed. It does not appear that these beetles have the instinct to distinguish their own balls, as they will seize upon those belonging to another, in case they have lost their own; and, indeed, it is said that several of them occasionally assist in rolling the same ball. The males as well as the females assist in rolling the pellets. They fly during the hottest part of the day.

With this evidence from an expert naturalist before him the Egyptologist, in dealing with the scarab, was obliged to say that the dung-feeding beetle which it represented collected a ball of excrementitious matter, and that, having rolled it into a pit which it had prepared to receive it, the beetle laid eggs in the ball, which the larvae fed upon when they were hatched out. And this the Egyptologist continued to say until J. Henri Fabre published his monograph on the "Sacred Beetle," when he learned that the habits and customs of the scarabaeus sacer had been wrongly described both by ancient and modern writers. A brief summary of M. Fabre's account of this beetle may well be given here. The sacred beetle, the biggest and most famous of our dung-beetles, is black, and his long legs move with awkward jerks, as though driven onward by some internal mechanism. When he comes to feed, his little red antennae unfurl their fan-a sign of anxious greed. The edge of his broad flat head, or shield, is notched with six angular teeth arranged in a semicircle. This is used as a digging-tool, and also as a rake for scraping together the matter which suits him best when he is selecting the material for the maternal ball. When he is collecting for his own. needs he is less careful, and he scrapes stuff together with his notched shield more or less at random. The forelegs play a great part in the work. They are flat, bow-shaped, supplied with powerful

1 An Introduction to the Modern Classification of Insects, London, 1839, Vol. I, p. 204 ff.

2 See Souvenirs Entomologiques, Vols. I and V, and the English translation by A. Teixeira de Mattos, The Sacred Beetle and others, London, 1919.


nervures and armed on the outside with five strong teeth. When he wishes to remove an obstacle or clear a space he flings his toothed legs to right and left with an energetic sweep. The legs then collect the stuff which is raked together by the shield and push it under the insect's belly, between the four hinder legs. These legs are long and slender, especially the last pair, slightly bowed and finished with a very sharp claw. They serve as compasses, and are capable of embracing a globular body in their curved branches and of verifying and correcting its shape. Their function is, in fact, to fashion the ball. They heap the material under the body of the insect and impart to it their own curve and give it a preliminary outline. The roughly shaped mass is turned from time to time, and turns round under the beetle's belly until it is rolled into a perfect ball. The ball varies in size from that of a walnut or small apple to that of a man's fist.

Having made the ball of food which he intends to eat, he clasps it with his two long hind legs, the terminal claws of which, planted in the mass, serve as pivots. He obtains a purchase with the middle pair of legs, and using his toothed fore-arms as levers, he moves backwards, with his body bent, his head down and his hind-quarters in the air. The rear legs move backwards and forwards continually and, the claws shifting to change the axis of rotation, they keep the load balanced and push it along by alternate thrusts to right and to left. Sometimes the beetle will try to roll his food-ball up a slope, and in doing so will make a false step, when the ball will slip out of his grip and roll down to the place whence it started. But nothing daunts the beetle, and he will try and try, ten and even twenty times, to roll it up the slope before he abandons the slope and chooses another path. Sometimes two beetles will be seen pushing the same ball; but this does not represent a partnership between the sexes, nor community of family, nor community of labour, but an attempt at robbery. The beetle that comes to help intends to steal his neighbour's ball. M. Fabre tells us that he has seen one beetle come and knock down the beetle which was rolling along his ball and seize the ball by leaping upon it. The owner of the ball could do nothing but turn his ball round and round, which caused the robber to fall off on the ground. The robber and the robbed then began to fight each other, and on several occasions the latter was defeated and his ball carried off by the robber in triumph. Sometimes a second robber came and robbed the robber. Fabre's conclusion is that theft is a general practice among the scarabaei. The hole which the beetle prepares for his food-ball is a shallow cavity about the size of the fist it is dug in soft earth, usually in sand, and communicates with the outside by a short passage just wide enough to admit the ball. When the ball is in the cavity, the beetle goes in and stops up the entrance and then devotes all his energies to devouring the ball. When the ball is eaten, the beetle comes out

from the cavity and looks about him until he can find another patch of dung from which to make another ball. The beetle feasts in this way from May to June, and then buries himself in the cool earth until the first autumn rains come, when he leaves his refuge and comes out and makes preparations for reproducing his species. M. Fabre has proved once and for all that the balls which beetles roll along are balls of food, and that they never contain the eggs of the beetle. How was it, then, that ancient writers were led to believe that they did? This question is answered by M. Fabre, who tells us that the female beetle fashions the food for the larva into a pearshaped mass, and that in this the insect deposits her egg, not eggs. This "pear is found in a space underground which the beetle excavates, and it is reached by means of a shaft about 4 inches deep and a horizontal gallery. This crypt acts as an incubator, for the rays of the sun strike the ground only a few inches above the "pear." In shape and size this "pear" resembles the little Midsummer's Day pears which delight the children of Southern Europe; the largest is about 1 inches in length and the smallest 13 inches. The surface is even and is glazed with a thin layer of red earth, and the outer layer soon becomes as hard as wood. The mother beetle does not place her egg in the large round part of the pear, where we should expect to find it, but in the narrow part of the pear, in the neck, right at the end. In this neck is a niche with polished and shiny walls, and this is the hatching chamber of the egg. The egg is 10 millimetres long and 5 millimetres wide in the widest part. It is white in colour, and only the rear end, which adheres to the top of the niche, touches the walls of the niche. The larva, or grub, appears from 6 to 12 days after the egg is laid, and it begins to feed upon the floor of its niche, i.e., the " pear" at the bottom of the neck. It has a fine white skin with pale slate-coloured reflections proceeding from the digestive organs. It is bent into the form of a broken arch or hook, and at the bend the third, fourth, and fifth segments of the abdomen swell into an enormous hump, and the creature looks as if it were carrying a knapsack. Its head is small, slightly convex, bright red in colour and studded with a few pale bristles. In due course the grub sheds its skin and becomes a nymph, and M. Fabre says: There are very few inhabitants of the insect world that can compare for sober beauty with the delicate creature which, with wing-cases recumbent in front of it like a wide pleated scarf and forelegs folded under its head like those of the adult beetle when counterfeiting death, calls to mind a mummy kept by its linen bandages in the approved hieratic attitude. Semitransparent and honey-yellow, it looks as though it were carved from a block of amber. Imagine it hardened in this state, mineralized, rendered incorruptible; it would make a splendid topaz gem.

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1 Sacred Beetle, translation, p. 98.


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