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AN EGYPTIAN GREEN-GLAZED STEATITE COMMEMORATIVE SCARAB FOR AMENHOTEP III
AN EGYPTIAN GREEN-GLAZED STEATITE COMMEMORATIVE SCARAB FOR AMENHOTEP III
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PROPERTY FROM A PRINCELY COLLECTION
AN EGYPTIAN GREEN-GLAZED STEATITE COMMEMORATIVE SCARAB FOR AMENHOTEP III

NEW KINGDOM, 18TH DYNASTY, REIGN OF AMENHOTEP III, 1390-1352 B.C.

Details
AN EGYPTIAN GREEN-GLAZED STEATITE COMMEMORATIVE SCARAB FOR AMENHOTEP III
NEW KINGDOM, 18TH DYNASTY, REIGN OF AMENHOTEP III, 1390-1352 B.C.
2 ¾ in. (6.9 cm.) long
Provenance
Antiquities, Sotheby's, London, 13 December 1977, lot 185.
Antiquities, Sotheby's, New York, 19 May 1979, lot 281.
Scarabs and Design Amulets: A Glimpse of Ancient Egypt in Miniature, NFA Auctions, New York, 11 December 1991, lot 115.
The Thalassic Collection, New York, acquired by 2001.
Acquired by the current owner from the above, 2002.
Literature
A.P. Kozloff and B.M. Bryan, Egypt’s Dazzling Sun, Amenhotep III and his World, Cleveland, 1992, p. 69, n. 2.
P. Lacovara, et al., The Collector's Eye: Masterpieces of Egyptian Art from the Thalassic Collection, Atlanta, 2001, pp. 92-93, no. 51.
R.J. Demarée, "The Commemorative Scarabs of Amenophis III: An Update," Jaarbericht “Ex Oriente Lux” 43, 2011, p. 28, no. C125.
Exhibited
Atlanta, The Michael C. Carlos Museum, Emory University, The Collector's Eye: Masterpieces of Egyptian Art from the Thalassic Collection, 21 April 2001-6 January 2002.

Lot Essay

The nearly forty-year reign of Amenhotep III was one of the most artistically productive in the history of Egypt. The high level of achievement in all the arts, major and minor, is well documented, including faience, as evinced by the surviving corpus from his reign. According to L.M. Berman in A.P. Kozloff and B.M. Bryan (op. cit., p. 67), the invention of the large-scale commemorative scarab beetle is attributed to his reign. The majority of them are made from glazed steatite, either blue or green, all with the different parts of the beetle well-detailed.

Five varieties of the commemorative scarab are known. Each type, according to the inscriptions on their undersides, memorialized an important event in Amenhotep III’s life: the lion hunt; the wild bull hunt; his marriage to Queen Tiye; the creation of an artificial lake for Tiye; and the arrival of Princess Gilukhepa, daughter of the Mitannian King Shuttarna II.

The lion hunt scarabs record that Amenhotep III, from the first year of his reign through the tenth, killed 102 lions. The purpose of these scarabs was to celebrate his great achievement, informing the population of Egypt and beyond that he was a powerful ruler. Indeed, the scarabs have been found not only throughout Egypt proper, but also as far south as Soleb in Sudan and as far north as Ras Shamra in Syria.

R. Demarée (op. cit., pp. 25-34) notes that more than 130 lion hunt scarabs are known, most now in institutional collections in Europe, North America and the Near East. Most are of similar scale to the present example and are inscribed with 8 lines of hieroglyphic text reading:

“May he live, the Horus, Mighty Bull Who Appears in Maat; the Two Ladies, Establisher of the Laws and Pacifier of the Two Lands, the Horus of Gold, Great of Strength Who Smites the Asiatics; the King of Upper and Lower Egypt, Nebmaatre; the Son of Re, Amenhotpe Ruler of Thebes, endowed with life; and the King’s Great Wife Tiye, may she live! The number of the lions from regnal year 1 down to regnal year 10, lions 102”.

As Berman informs (op. cit., p. 68), because of the consistency of their style, it seems that all five types of commemorative scarab were issued simultaneously sometime in the 11th regnal year or later, or circa 1376 B.C.

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