A drawing I’m currently working on is based on the scarab, so I thought I’d do some quick research into the origin and significance of the symbol in ancient Egypt.
The scarab amulet was based on the scarab beetle, or sacred scarab, scarabaeus sacer – a species of dung beetle. The scarab was a symbol of transformation, renewal, and resurrection, and was associated with the god Khepri, (also spelled Khepera, Kheper, Chepri, Khepra), “he who has come into being”, the god of the rising sun. The ancient Egyptians believed that Khepri renewed the sun every day before rolling it above the horizon.
Scarabs were used as amulets, talismans, and royal seals, and were made from a variety of materials, such as ivory, alabaster, turquoise, carnelian, malachite, and lapis lazuli.
The scarab was used also used in funerary rites. The large “heart scarab” was placed on the chest of the deceased and were meant to be measured against the feather of truth during the final judgment. The amulets were often inscribed with a spell from the Book of the Dead which entreated the heart: ” do not stand as a witness against me.” Another possibility is “suggested by the ‘transformation spells’ of the Coffin Texts, which affirm that the soul of the deceased may transform (xpr) into a human being, a god, or a bird and reappear in the world of the living.”