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Mummy Beetles

It’s ironic, if that’s the right word for it, that the noble scarab beetle celebrated by the ancient Egyptians, which appears in their artwork and sacred symbols, their hieroglyphics and jewelry, is in actuality a dung beetle. It’s true. The ancient Egyptians thought that the scarab rolling a ball of dung along the ground was symbolic of the magical forces that moved the sun across the sky. The god Khepri, representing the rising sun, was often depicted as a scarab or with a scarab for a head. (Unlike in the THE MUMMY films, scarabs are not carnivorous and don’t attack people, not even Brendan Fraser.)

A tomb has been opened in Saqqara, the necropolis of Memphis, containing mummified scarab beetles. This indicates the reverence in which these insects were held by the Egyptians. I knew that they made mummies out of cats sometimes, and falcons, and even crocodiles. But I’d never heard of mummified scarabs before. “The scarab [mummies are] something really unique. It is something really a bit rare,” said Mostafa Waziri, the secretary-general of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities. The scarabs were interred in their own decorated sarcophagi. They got bling.

I have to ask, though: how exactly does one go about mummifying an insect?

TheCheezman • November 26, 2018

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