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Lot 637: Egyptian 'All life and stability' Scarab in Gold Ring

Antiquities: Day 2

by TimeLine Auctions

December 7, 2016

Harwich, United Kingdom

Live Auction
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Description: Early 1st millennium BC. A glazed composition scarab with hieroglyphic amuletic text to the underside; mounted in a sympathetic modern gold swivel ring. 5.66 grams, 28mm including ring (1"). Property of a lady, Wakefield, UK; part of her family collection. John H Taylor, Assistant Keeper in the Department of Ancient Egypt and Sudan, British Museum writes: Thank you for the images of your scarab ring. To judge from the photos, the gold mount is modern but the scarab itself appears to be genuinely ancient. The gold mount obscures some of the design on the flat base but most of it can be made out. At the top is a vegetal-motif, probably representing papyrus plants, and below this are three hieroglyphic signs arranged vertically, side-by-side. The two at left and right are both ankh-signs, which represent the word for 'life' in the ancient Egyptian language. Between them is the djed, a stylised pillar with horizontal bars at the top. This was associated with Osiris, god of the dead, and conveyed the notion of 'stability' or 'uprightness'. Beneath these signs, but partly hidden by the mount, there seems to be a semicircular sign which could be neb, meaning 'all'. Therefore the signs below the plant could probably be translated as 'All life and stability' - a wish which would have been believed to bring good fortune to the owner. It is often difficult to date scarabs accurately, but the style of this specimen suggests that it was probably made in the early-middle first millennium BC, i.e. perhaps about 1000-500 BC.

Condition Report: Fine condition.

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