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 Museum Explorer

Birds and beasts in
Ancient Egypt

Giant scarab beetle

Height: 91.500 cm (max)
Length: 152.500 cm (max)

EA 74

Giant scarab beetle

From: Istanbul, modern Turkey
Date: Egyptian, perhaps 332-30 BC

Scarab beetles lay their eggs in dung and they are often seen rolling balls of dung around. Watching the baby beetles hatch out of the dung, the Egyptians thought that scarabs could recreate themselves and so live forever. They thought that a scarab rolling a ball of dung across the ground was like the sun god Khepri rolling the sun across the sky each day. The sun disappeared in the evening, only for it to be reborn by itself on the other side of the sky the following morning.

This huge scarab sculpture is about one and a half metres long, and would probably have stood in a temple to the sun god.