Take a Look
- Look at the picture of this object. What do you see?
- You may notice that the object has broken edges. It is very old. When it was made 3,000 years ago, it was most likely part of a column on an ancient Egyptian temple!
- The column was made out of limestone, and the symbols we see were all carved by hand into the stone.
- We can see different pictures and symbols on the object that help us understand what life might have been like in Egypt thousands of years ago.
- Look at the pictures carved on the right side. These symbols are called hieroglyphs!
- Hieroglyphics are the ancient Egyptian form of writing that was used thousands of years ago. Each hieroglyph can represent a letter or word.
- Because the object is broken, we only have a little information about what some of the hieroglyphs might mean.
- Do you see the circle on the right side of the object? If you look under the circle, you can see a vertical bar. To the right of these hieroglyphs is a hieroglyph of a kneeling man.
- When these three hieroglyphs are combined together, they represent the words "sun god."
- The large man on the left side of the object is the god of the rising sun. His name is Kheperi.
- What do you see above Kheperi’s head?
- Although the object is broken, we can see part of a beetle above Kheperi's head. This beetle is known as a scarab, or dung beetle.
- Want to learn more about dung beetles? Click here to watch a video from National Geographic.
- The dung beetle was called "kheperer" in ancient Egyptian. By watching the dung beetles roll balls of dung, the ancient Egyptians made a connection to what looked like the sun moving across the sky during the day.
- Kheperi, the god of the rising sun, was thought to be rolling the sun across the sky like a dung beetle rolling a ball of dung!
Click through the images in the slideshow above or download the instructions to create your own scarab at home!
- If you were an ancient Egyptian god connected to nature, what would your power be?
- What creature would represent you?
Explore more artwork from ancient Egypt at Krannert Art Museum
Egyptian, ca. 2325 BCE - 2160 BCE
(Old Kingdom, 6th dynasty)
Incised limestone relief
Egyptian, ca. 751 BCE - 525 BCE
(25th to 26th dynasty)
Egyptian, ca. 50 BCE - 50 CE
(Ptolemaic or Roman Period)
Wood, plaster, and paint figurine