[Egyp. kheper; Lat. scarabacus sacer]
Most common form of ancient Egyptian stamp seal from the Middle Kingdom (c. 2008–c. 1630 bc) until the end of the Dynastic period (332 bc). The scarab—so called because it was carved in the shape of the sacred dung-beetle (Scarabaeus sacer)—was usually of faience or glazed steatite. Perforated lengthwise and incorporated into necklaces or finger-rings, it had a flat base bearing a carved hieroglyphic inscription or pictorial decoration. Scarabs can be dated by both the shape of the body and the style of the decoration. Many large commemorative scarabs were produced during the reign of Amenophis III (regc. 1390–c. 1353 bc), with inscriptions describing his wedding to Queen Tiye, or his lion hunts.
Large ‘heart-scarabs’, mostly of basalt or serpentine, were a common component of Egyptian funerary equipment (see fig.; see also Egypt, ancient, §XII, 3, (vi)). ‘Heart-scarabs’ were generally placed in mummy-wrappings or mounted on the pectoral; they were often inscribed with the 30th chapter of the Book of the Dead (a collection of funerary spells). Scarabs were also very common at sites in Syria–Palestine under Egyptian influence....