What Is a Sacred Beetle?


Quick Answer

The sacred beetle or scarab is a dung beetle that ancient Egyptians saw as an earthly form of their sun god, Khepri. Scarabs form balls of herbivorous waste for laying eggs. The Egyptians saw the young beetle emerging from the ball as a symbol of the sun god emerging from the sun and the scarab's rolling the dung ball as symbolizing the sun god rolling the sun across the sky.

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Full Answer

The Egyptians created millions of amulets of the scarab. Archaeologists find them placed over the heart of the deceased in mummies. However, these amulets were not limited to royalty. Evidence indicates even the poor often had a scarab amulet. According to the McClung Museum, the sacredness of the scarab amulet to the ancient Egyptian was on the same scale of that of the cross to a Christian. Tourists to Egypt often buy cheap scarab amulets based on King Tut's jewelry as a souvenir of their trip.

The Egyptian beetles roll the balls of waste using their hind legs. They then roll these balls long distances to bury them underground. The ball provides nutrition for the beetle in its larva stage. Dung beetles provide an essential role in the environment. They bury enough waste to prevent the spread of disease in livestock and keep pests in control.

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