Monday, July 30, 2012

ROYAL SCARABS FROM CANAAN



This is a photograph of the inscribed side of a scarab (the other side represents the beetle); it has been provided for our consideration by Kevin Bermeister of Sydney.
    It is representative of a type of seal from Canaan (Syria-Palestine) in the Bronze Age: a standing ruler is surrounded by Egyptian symbols and hieroglyphs.
   
    Here are some  examples of official stamp-seals found in that region, dated to the period Middle Bronze Age IIB (18th, 17th, and 16th centuries before the current era).


From Othmar Keel and Sylvia Schroer,  
Studien zu den Stempelsiegeln aus Palästina / Israel,  
Band 1 (Göttingen 1985) page 79
    The glyphs on our scarab find a close counterpart in example 33 (from Jericho), which also shows (together with 34 and 37) that the object held in the person's hand is a large flower (not a weapon). 
    However, 36 has an `ankh, the Egyptian symbol of life, and two nfr signs, bespeaking "good and beautiful",  all adding up to "a very good life", perhaps; the same combination appears on 37,  with the flower as well. The 'ankh is now known to be the top vertebra of a bull, and 34b might well be significant evidence of this, since it apparently represents a spinal column. The nfr hieroglyph has the heart with the windpipe, and possibly the lips, which combine to express the emotional response to beauty and goodness. The two instances on 35 are inverted, while 38 seems to have an inverted 'ankh with nfr, for "good life".

 

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