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Egypt - 15th to 17th Dynasties

Description: Scarab of "Tell el Yehwdiyeh" Type. Coarse, deep cut base, inscribed "ANKH NEFER ANKH SETEN BYTI". Longtitudinal and side piercings for alternative use as a finger ring.
Period: Hyksos period 1650 - 1555 B.C.
Size: 20 x 13 x 9 mm
Reference: Petrie: "Design Scarabs" Nos. 1523-1565


HYKSOS (Egyptian, "foreign rulers") were semitic invaders who conquered Egypt in the early part of the 17th century BC and founded the 15th Dynasty. (The name has also been, erroneously, interpreted as meaning "shepherd kings".) Sweeping south into Egypt, probably from Palestine and Syria, they and their nomadic followers captured Memphis and exacted tribute from the rest of the country. They established a stronghold at Avaris (possibly the later Tanis), on the northeastern border of the Nile delta, but left the territory to the north of Memphis under the rule of minor princes of the old nobility. These vassals started the nationalistic revolt that under Ahmose I (reigned 1570-1546 BC), founder of the 18th Dynasty, drove out the foreign rulers. The only detailed ancient account of the Hyksos is in a passage cited by the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus. Inscriptions and sculptural and pottery fragments indicate that these kings adapted themselves to Egyptian customs and took Egyptian names. The Hyksos introduced the horse into Egypt; their easy conquest of Egypt was probably due to their use of such advanced military equipment as horse-drawn chariots. They maintained tribute or trade relations with the Minoans and Babylonians. Although the buildings of the Hyksos kings do not survive, some traces of temple restorations remain, mainly at Bubastis. It was during the Hyksos period that Joseph became Vizier under Apophis.


Among the many amulets and ornaments worn by the ancient Egyptians during the historic period, the most important are the scarabs. These littlc objects are made of stone or glazed ware and are in the form of the scarabaeus-beetle (hence the modern name of scarab). The actual beetles appear to have been sacred in the prehistoric times, for they have been found, carefully preserved, in many of the early graves. The scarabaeus is a dung beetle ; it lays its egg in the droppings of animals, then rolls the dung into a ball and pushes the ball with its hind-legs into a hole in the ground. These beetles can be seen in full activity in any part of Upper Egypt in a sunny place over which animals have passed. But the beetles will also lay their eggs in the dead body of one of their companions, and this is perhaps the reason why the scarab was taken by the ancient Egyptians as the emblem of the resurrection, for they saw life coming out of death as the young beetles emerged. Scarabs were at first made of stone-steatite or schist-glazed blue or green. In the Middle Kingdom carnelian and amethyst scarabs were made; as these stones were very hard and difficult to engrave, the base was covered with a gold plate on which the appropriate signs were cut. Cheap scarabs were made in glazed ware, not in stone.

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