The ancient Egyptians maintained that the sun was propelled across the heavens by means of a scarab, or sacred beetle. With the passing of time, the Egyptians created a series of amulets in the form of this beetle in a great variety of materials, and these were routinely provided with inscriptions in hieroglyphs conveniently accommodated to their stylized flat bottoms. Such scarabs were generally incorporated into finger rings, as here, where they served as bezels.
Our scarab is just such a variation. The head with its eyes, the plate, and the clypeus are well articulated. The thorax and elytra, or wing case, are articulated by a double, T-shape incision which surrounds each of these two elements as a framing border. The underside of the scarab contains a design framed by a pattern of interlocking motifs. Within is a single column of four hieroglyphs, namely, a djed-pillar, an “inverted” neb-sign, and two side by side nefer-signs. Such an arrangement is commonly encountered on contemporary scarabs.
Scarab finger-rings, mounted in settings with swivel bezels, as seen here in our finger ring, are attested from the time of the Middle Kingdom and become particularly popular in the New Kingdom.
For a discussion of these designs, see, Daphna Ben-Tor, The Scarab. A Reflection of Ancient Egypt (Jerusalem 1993, page 31; and Carol Andrews, Ancient Egyptian Jewelelry (London 1990), page 164, for a discussion of these finger rings.
Translation and interpretation kindly provided by Prof. Robert S. Bianchi