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?