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ID number:  ECM 905
Named collection:  The Eton Myers Collection
Title / Object name:  Beeswax Scarab
Object type:  Amulet
Culture:  Egyptian
Date made:  Late Period (ca. 664-332 BCE)
Collector:  Warre, Agnes
Materials:  Beeswax and Gold
Measurements:  overall: 1.34 cm x 1.01 cm x .56 cm (H x W x D x Dia x Wt)
Provenance:  Unknown

Beeswax scarab with the remains of gilding. The back is well modelled but the base remains blank.

Bibliography:  For more information about the use of beeswax in ancient Egypt, see
Z. Shoosmith 2016 'Life Through Wax: Beeswax in ancient Egypt' in S. Boonstra (ed.) Objects Come to Life Virtual Exhibition, Birmingham Egyptology.

Notes:  The two holes at either end of this scarab indicate that it was meant to be hung from a string or used as a bead. Gilded beeswax amulets such as this were commonly placed in tombs from the Third Intermediate Period (ca. 1069-664 BCE) through to the Graeco-Roman Period (332 BCE-AD 395). In this case, the symbolism of the scarab, associated with the daily rebirth of the sun, compliments the solar and regenerative symbolism also associated with beeswax.

Beeswax in ancient Egypt was associated with life. It was easy to sculpt, allowing an individual to mimic the god Khnum, who made life on a potter's wheel. Beeswax was also associated with the solar god Re whose tears were said to have turned into the first bees. The life-giving symbolism of beeswax made it useful to help the dead into the afterlife. Amulets such as scarabs and ankhs were sometimes made of wax. Mummy portraits could also be given life-like textures with beeswax and metal sculptures could be made more detailed through 'lost wax casting'. Models made with wax could be used when vitality was needed either to help or harm a person. Destroying a model enemy was seen to destroy the threat of an actual enemy. A wax model could also encourage healing or aid rebirth into the afterlife. Consequently wax models could be used in a wide range of circumstances and were common in Egyptian society.

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