“Call me Scarab, please.” The Rags to Riches Story of the Humble Dung Beetle

What a lot of folks probably don’t realize is that the Scarab is actually the humble Dung Beetle.

The particular species of beetle represented in the numerous ancient Egyptian amulets and works of art is the large sacred scarab (Scarabaeus sacer) or “Dung Beetle.” This beetle earns its namesake by  rolling balls of dung along the ground and depositing them in its burrows. The female lays her eggs in the ball of dung. When they hatch, the larvae use the ball for food. When the dung is consumed, the young beetles emerge from the hole.

Millions of amulets and stamp seals of stone or faience were fashioned in Egypt depicted the scarab beetle.

It seemed to the ancient Egyptians that the young scarab beetles emerged spontaneously from the burrow were they were born. Therefore they were worshipped as “Khepera”, which means “he was came forth.” This creative aspect of the scarab was associated with the creator god Atum.
The ray-like antenna on the beetle’s head and its practice of dung-rolling caused the beetle to also carry solar symbolism. The scarab-beetle god Khepera was believed to push the setting sun along the sky in the same manner as the beetle with his ball of dung. In many artifacts, the scarab is depicted pushing the sun along its course in the sky.

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