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Scarabs were popular amulets in ancient Egypt. According to ancient Egyptian myths, the sun (Ra) rolls across the sky each day and transforms bodies and souls. Modeled upon the Scarabaeidae family dung beetle, which rolls dung into a ball for the purposes of eating and laying eggs that are later transformed into larva, the scarab was seen as an earthly symbol of this heavenly cycle. This came to be iconographic, and ideological symbols were incorporated into ancient Egyptian society.
Through different time periods, about 2000 years, the use of the scarabs became many and varied. As amulets, and a flat surface on the bottom (as a similar artifact of a paperweight), it became a surface with other utilitarian purposes. Other nations and regions, especially in the Levant, even came to reproduce Egyptian styles, or to adapt their use to their own gods or personal uses. They were also found as grave goods, amulets, talismans, jewelry types, or gifts of affection.
Beginning at the end of the First Intermediate Period scarabs became common. They were often incorporated into tombs, as grave goods, or given as 'gifts'. Early on they were used for sealing goods. In the late Middle Kingdom they often bear titles and names of officials. At this times they could also bear the names of kings. In this period they played an important part in the administration.
In the New Kingdom scarabs with titles and names of officials became rare. Amenhotep III is famous for his commemorative scarabs that memorialized events of his day. A type of these relates to his lion hunts in the first 10 years of his reign (with claims of extraordinary lion numbers); others of the series relates the building of 'the lake for his wife, Queen Tiye'.
Miniature scarab seals 
Miniature scarab seals were carried, or kept in the later periods of Ancient Egypt. They often had "catch phrases"; for example: "A mun-my-Strength". (A mun-my-Rock)
To the ancient Egyptians, the scarab or dung beetle (see: Scarab (artifact)) was a protector of written products. The scarab was also used as a holder or medium for personal name seals. A figurine of a scarab would be carved out of stone, and then on the ruff stomach of the scarab, the engraving of a seal was made. Later, this oval image was used for the representation of the cartouche, or name/title seals.
Scarab, "Kheper" as transformation 
The scarab, Egyptian language (kh)pr is used in many pharaonic names, for example Thutmosis III as Mn-Kheper-Re. Because it is used so frequently in pharaonic names, for example:
- Kheperkare Senusret I, Khakheperre Senusret II, Aakheperkare Thutmose I, Aakheperenre Thutmose II, Menkheperre Thutmose III, Aakheperrure Amenhotep II, Menkheperrure Thutmose IV, etc.
Its meaning needs to be presented. As the word "transform", or "transformation", the phrase Men-(Kh)eper-Re becomes: strong-transforming-Ra, and some renderings in common English are The Transforming Strength (of) Ra, or Ra's Steadfastness (of) Transformations. A much later word that replaced the kheper, 'transforming' was the Greek language "epiphanous", the word for manifesting. A similar usage, but not with the implications of transformation, as an insect larva, transforming into an adult-form bug. The Ptolemaic era Ptolemy V of the Rosetta Stone, 196 BC is named Ptolemy V Epiphanes. Coins of Greece and other Greek influenced kingdoms had coins using the King's profile and the word epi(ph)anous, namely basileus epi(ph)anous, (King-Manifested). Example:
- Kheper-i kheper kheperu, kheper-kuy,
- m kheper n khepri kheperu m sep tepy.
“I became, and the becoming became. I became by becoming the form of Khepra, god of transformations, who came into being in the First Time. Through me all transformations were enacted.”
Literary and popular culture reference 
- P.G. Wodehouse's first Blandings novel — Something Fresh (1915) — involves the pilfering of a rare Egyptian scarab (a "Cheops of the Fourth Dynasty") as a key plot device.
- In the British crime novelist Dorothy L. Sayers` novel Murder Must Advertise a scarab, catapulted, is the murder weapon.
- The rock band Journey uses various types of scarabs as their main logo and in the cover art of the albums Departure, Captured, Escape, Greatest Hits, Arrival, Generations, Revelation, and The Essential Journey
- Scarabs are still made as jewelry; one of the best-known makers is the iconic London-based jeweler, The Great Frog.
- The Egyptian death metal band Scarab takes their name from these artifacts.
- The famous Dutch print-maker, M. C. Escher (1898–1972) created a wood engraving in 1935 depicting two scarabs or dung beetles.
Amulets: Scarab and Papyrus
Scarab with a cartouche
Signet ring, with cartouche, and for the Pharaoh:
'Perfect God, Lord of the Two Lands'–('Ntr-Nfr, Neb-taui')
Scarab with Spread Wings, The Walters Art Museum.
See also 
- Daphna Ben-Tor: Scarabs, A Reflection of Ancient Egypt, Jerusalem 1989 ISBN 965-278-083-9, p. 8
- Daphna Ben-Tor: Scarabs, A Reflection of Ancient Egypt, Jerusalem 1989 ISBN 965-278-083-9, p. 26
- Ward, John. The Sacred Beetle: A Popular Treatise on Egyptian Scarabs in Art and History. London: John Murray Co. 1902.
- Andrews, Carol, 1994. Amulets of Ancient Egypt, chapter 4: Scarabs for the living and funerary scarabs, pp 50-59, Andrews, Carol, c 1993, University of Texas Press; (softcover, ISBN 0-292-70464-X)
- Budge, 1977, (1926). The Dwellers on the Nile, E.A.Wallace Budge, (Dover Publications), c 1977, (originally, c 1926, by Religious Tract Society, titled as: The Dwellers on the Nile: Chapter of the Life, History, Religion and Literature of the Ancient-Egyptians); pp 265–68: "account of the hunting of wild cattle by Amenhetep III", "taken from a great scarab"; (there are 16 registers-(lines) of hieroglyphs); (softcover, ISBN 0-486-23501-7)
- Ward, John, 1902. The Sacred Beetle: A Popular Treatise on Egyptian Scarabs in Art and History. London: John Murray Co. 1902.
- Hatshepsut: from Queen to Pharaoh, an exhibition catalog from The Metropolitan Museum of Art (fully available online as PDF), which contains a significant amount of material on scarabs (see index)
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