The Tutankhamun Exhibit
Jewelry and Ornamentation
Pendant Depicting the Solar Beetle Flanked by Baboons
Like many of the items in Tutankhamun's tomb, this intricately designed pendant reflects aspects of the traditional religion that the young king restored. It was found in a box in the Treasury with other similar objects, probably all of which were originally from the king's personal collection of jewelry. The central motif depicts the rising of the sun. The scarab beetle, who sustains its young from the ball of dung it carries, was associated in Egyptian mythology with the sun, as the means by which it crosses the heaven every day. Here, the golden beetle, inlaid with lapis lazuli, is in the bark of the sun, holding the solar disk in its front legs and the shen hieroglyph ("infinity") in its hind legs. The hieroglyph pet ("sky") above is fashioned of lapis lazuli and inlaid with fourteen golden stars; the water below is lapis lazuli inlaid with golden waves. On either side is the hieroglyph was ("dominion"). The scarab is accompanied by two baboons, animals frequently associated with the rising sun. Moreover, the god Thoth, who is often represented in the form of a baboon, usually accompanies the sun in the bark. Upon the baboons' heads are the lunar disk and crescent. The two are seated on the roof of a golden shrine, worshipping the sun as it rises.