Ancient Egyptian Steatite Scarab with Apis Bull
Scarab with name of the Apis Bull
Measurement: 1.1 x.9 x.4 cm
Material/colour: creamy white steatite, no traces of glazing.
Technique: stone carving; pierced lengthwise; double line between wing-covers.
Condition: slight wear on back.
Provenance: Collected by Gustave Jéquier (1868-1946)
Ex. Billy Jamieson Collection, 2009 (1954-2011)
Authentication: Gayle Gibson, Royal Ontario Museum Toronto
Identification and Interpretation: An inverted neb sign crowns the glyphs for the Egyptian name of the Apis bull, Hap. The whole could be read, Hap is Lord. The Apis Bull was an avatar of the god Ptah. The living animal was kept at Memphis, which was, naturally, the centre of his cult.
Workmanship: Vertical lines are carved inside the neb sign and there was some attempt at showing texture inside the aspirated ‘h’ sound, shown as a twist of flax. The carving is not well spaced, nor particularly elegant.
Scarab: Clypeus clearly shown as are humeral callosities; legs merely indicated.
Function and Meaning: The Apis bull was a manifestation of Ptah the Creator God during life, and was considered the ba of Osiris in the Afterlife. The power and virility of the bull enhanced this life and guaranteed the ability to survive death and enjoy the next. This piece could have been worn in life or death.
Parallels: see Ben-Tor, p.74, No. 7; 76.31.3499, for the god Ptah.