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The Scarab

One of the least expensive souvenirs you can bring back from your trip is a small scarab beetle carved from stone.

The scarab, or dung beetle, isn't the prettiest insect, but it had a special place in ancient Egyptian religion. The beetle pushes a ball of dung from east to west just as the god Khepri rolled the earth from east to west, so it's a symbol of a cycle of renewal that's central to ancient beliefs. In fact, Khepri is often portrayed as a man with a scarab head or simply as a scarab (in hieroglyphics).

The dung beetle also rises out of the earth when it hatches in the same way that ancient Egyptians hoped to emerge into the afterlife. That's why the image of this humble beetle is seen in royal tombs, and why tourists all across Egypt buy replicas every day. Indeed, even in ancient Egypt, the scarab was a common amulet, paperweight, or talisman given as a gift.

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