MYTHOLOGY: Meaning of Egyptian Scarab Amulets

image Egyptian Amulet Treasure
Egyptian Scarab Amulet
What did scarab amulets mean to the ancient Egyptians?
Scarab amulets were Egyptian symbols of protection made in the shape of a scarab beetle. They could be worn as jewelry or carved into tomb walls, and offered a person magical protection against the dangers of this world, as well as those of the next.

How were scarab amulets used?

People drew scarab symbols on tomb walls. They made decorations out of them. Most of all, they made scarab-shaped protective amulets out of gold or precious gems and stones, or simply out of painted clay. They could be worn as jewellery. Often amulets were buried with a mummy. The amulet was placed over the mummy's heart, with a magic, protective spell inscribed on the back of it. 

When a person died, their heart was heart weighed by Ma'at, the goddess of truth. If the heart was found to be heavy with sin, they could not go on to the afterlife. If, however, it was found to be light, they could safely move on. 

The scarab beetle offered protection against the weighing of the heart ritual. It would be placed over the deceased heart to convince Ma'at that they were good and that they deserved her mercy.  


One spell found on the back of an amulet reads:

Do not stand in witness against me. ~ writing found on the back of a scarab amulet


image Scarabaeus sacer
Scarabaeus sacer

What do scarab beetles look like in real life?

You can find live scarabs crawling around pretty much anywhere in Egypt. They're big and black, with smooth shells and spiky legs. Sometimes, you might even see them pushing around a little ball! 

What's the ball that scarab beetles push around?

The ball is actually made of animal dung.

Why do scarab beetles push around balls of dung?

When a scarab beetle decides to be a parent, they lay their eggs inside some animal dung. The beetle then moulds the dung into a neat little ball. The ball that contains their eggs can be easily rolled around. That way they can take their unhatched babies with them wherever they go. It's actually pretty clever.

Why did scarab beetles become sacred?

When the eggs hatch, tiny babies run out of the ball. To anyone watching, it looks like the babies magically appear out of nowhere. Because of this, the scarab beetle was believed to have magic powers. The beetle symbolized creation, life, and even rebirth. It was associated with the creation god Atum.

Besides creation and heart protection, what meaning did the scarab beetle have?

Scarab treasure from
Tutankhamen's tomb 
The scarab pushing his little ball also reminded people of the sun moving across the sky. It was said that Khepera, the scarab beetle god, was above them pushing the sun ball along on a daily journey.

Did a scarab amulet from Tutankhamen's tomb cast a curse over people?

No discussion of Egyptian scarab beetles would be complete without  a mention of King Tut and the curses associated with the opening of his tomb. Here's one such story.

Author Scott Peters recounts this one: 

Apparently, a paperweight from King Tut's tomb was given to Sir Bruce Ingham as a gift. This was no ordinary paperweight, however. It consisted of a mummified hand. A rather gruesome gift!

The mummified hand wore a scarab bracelet on its wrist. This bracelet was marked with a warning that consisted of some frightening ancient words:


"Cursed be he who moves my body. To him shall come fire, water and pestilence." 
Here's the astonishing part: After Sir Ingham received this spine-chilling gift, his house burned down. Even stranger, when Sir Ingham rebuilt his house, it suffered a flood. Curse or coincidence? No one really knows for certain.

You might be interested in: 
SaveSave