Naturalistically rendered scarabs and scaraboids, such as this beautiful example, were usually carved from precious and semi-precious stones and were exclusively found in tombs dating from the Late Period onwards, usually placed on top of different parts of the mummy. With the inclusion of the falcon, we can assume that these particular scarab was linked to solar imagery and thus rebirth and regeneration. Whilst their exact purpose is unknown, their numbers would suggest they were used regularly.
The Ancient Egyptians believed that the Scarabaeus Beetle had the ability to spontaneously regenerate itself from cow dung, which these beetles roll around. The scarabs would form the small balls by pushing the dung forward and then bury themselves and lay eggs inside. Consequently, the scarab came to be associated with the spontaneous continuation of the life cycle. In addition, this movement resembled the journey the sun does every day across the sky and therefore the Egyptian God Khepri, who represents the morning sun, became strongly associated with this insect. Scarabs are amongst the most popular and most numerous of all Ancient Egyptian artefacts and were especially employed in the funerary context. This particular scarab features the head of one of the most important deity in the Egyptian pantheon, Horus. The Egyptian god Horus was depicted as a falcon-headed man and the term ‘Horus’ refers usually to either two gods; Horus the Elder or Horus the Younger. Considered the most important of the avian deities, the figure of falcon-headed Horus was represented in a myriad of ways. As Horus the Younger, son of the gods Osiris and Isis, he was regarded as the protector of the ruler of Egypt. Thus, all pharaohs were considered the living embodiment of Horus. He was primarily a sky god, associated with the sun and with the moon. His frequently used symbols were the eye of Horus and the falcon.
To discover more about amulets in the Ancient Egyptian world, please visit our relevant post: Amulets in Ancient Egypt.