Green jasper heart scarab of King Sobekemsaf

Thebes, Egypt
17th Dynasty, around 1590 BC

The heart scarab was an amulet placed on the chest of the mummy to ensure that the heart, believed to be the seat of intelligence and personality, was not removed. This is among the earliest heart scarabs known, and the first that is known to have belonged to an Egyptian king.

Egyptian Queen Nefertari Scarab, 19th Dynasty, 1295-1186 BC

A carnelian scarab with inscription to the underside of Queen Nefertari (died circa 1250 BC); mounted in a 19th century gold swivel frame pendant.

Nefertari, also known as Nefertari Meritmut, was one of the Great Royal Wives (or principal wives) of Ramesses the Great. Nefertari means ‘the beautiful one has come’ and Meritmut means 'Beloved of [the Goddess] Mut’. She is one of the best known Egyptian queens. Her lavishly decorated tomb is the largest and most spectacular in the Valley of the Queens.

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Phoenician Scarab in Gold Swivel Mount, 6th-4th Century BC

The Egyptianising form of art can be seen on this Phoenician scarab with the winged sun disc of the Egyptian god Ra-Horakhty being held aloft by two lion-headed men which may be related to the guardian deities known from Achaemenid art. A cicada is between the two lion-headed men. It’s made of dark green glass or jasper.

Classical Phoenician scarabs were made in Phoenicia in the period of the Achaemenid Empire, from the later sixth century to the mid-fourth century BC. Beside the Etruscan, they are the last major production of scarab seals of antiquity. They are made of green jasper, the color probably being of as much importance as their intaglios since it enhances their amuletic value. Most of the 1500 examples known have been found in the west Phoenician (Punic) cemeteries of Carthage in North Africa, as well as the islands of Sardinia and Ibiza, but there are many also from the east Mediterranean. It was long held that all were western products but it is more likely that they were made in the Phoenician homeland. They served as jewelry, as offerings in tombs and sanctuaries, and for their primary function of sealing. Many, such as this example, were given precious metal mounts. The subjects of the intaglios are the most eclectic of any medium of the period. They include Egyptianising (the common stock of Phoenicia for many years), Levantine (more Syrian in style and subject) and Hellenising (mainly following late archaic Greek subjects and styles, whence many have been called Greco-Phoenician).