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3a: An Egyptian Steatite Pectoral with Heart Scarab

Lot 3A View Catalog

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Egypt, New Kingdom, 19th / 20th Dynasty, ca. 1290-1070 B.C. Material: Steatite. The high quality pectoral made of steatite is nearly square shaped. The upper end of the pectoral is designed as a corvetto. The architectural element shows that the pectoral imitates the form of a pylon tower marking the entrance of an Ancient Egyptian temple. The decorated area of the pectoral is framed by a frieze. In the centre, a scarab is worked out three-dimensionally. Details on head, body and extremities of the beetle are elaborated accurately. The rest of the decoration is carved in the surface of the pectoral. The scarab rests on a bark and is flanked to both sides by two goddesses, Isis and Nephtys, which are raising their arms. The headdress of the deity on the right can be identified as the throne of the goddess Isis. Both deities wear a long garment reaching to the chest as well as a headband holding the bag shaped wig. An important detail is the heron at the right end of the bark. The bird represents the Akh soul of the deceased. Above the scarab, some hieroglyphs are arranged axis-symmetric. Nefer signs, a Shen ring (a protective symbol), water lines, an Udjat eye as well as a Neb basket are visible from the centre to the right end.

The inscription reads as follows: nfrw Sn wDA nb “ every perfection, protection and well-being.” The inscription refers to the depiction of both goddesses spreading their hands in a gesture of protection.

The scarab is a symbol for the sun god who emerges at the horizon in his sun bark at the end of the night. This particular appearance of the sun god has been called Khepri and was written with the hieroglyph of the scarab. Pectorals like this one closely related to heart scarabs which were deposited on mummies. This can be proven by the fact that Book of the Dead spell 30B is written on some of these pectorals which bears the title ‘spell to prevent the heart of the deceased to resist him in the realm of the dead’. The post-script of the spell reads as follows: ‘To be spoken over a beetle of green stone enclosed whit gold, its ring made of silver. To be given to the Akh soul (the deseased) on his neck.’

Book of the dead spell 30B is closely related to the Judgement of the Dead. The heart of the deceased should not resist him so that he could successfully reach the realm of the dead. Like heart scarabs, pectorals were deposited on the chest of the mummy to guaranty the secure journey of the deceased to the after world. The scarab in the bark relates this journey with the journey of the sun god during the night. Therefore, the pectoral has eyes to put it on the neck of the mummy.

Similar pectoral made of steatite, for example, in the British Museum, London (Inv. no. EA 7858 / see picture), or in the Musée de Louvre, Paris (Inv.-no. N 2748 / see picture), indicate a dating of the pectoral to the Ramesside period (19th /20th dynasty).

Literature: Carol Andrews: Amulets of Ancient Egypt, London 1994. Erik Hornung: Das Totenbuch der Ägypter, 2. Aufl., Mannheim 2000.

Size: Height Pectoral c. 9.3 cm (Scarab c. 5.3 cm)

Provenance: Ex-private French collection.

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Fragmentary, as shown.

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Estimate $9,000 – $12,000
Starting Bid $6,000

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8:00 AM - Jun 04, 2011
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