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Scaraboid in the Form of a Hedgehog

A work made of steatite.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • A work made of steatite.


New Kingdom–Third Intermediate Period (about 1550–664 BCE)



About this artwork

This amulet’s large, alert ears indicate that it likely represents the long-eared hedgehog (hemiechinus auritus), one of two hedgehog species native to North Africa. Despite their small stature, hedgehogs have many defenses against the harsh desert environment that ancient Egyptians admired. They use their spines for protection from predators and have immunity to snake and scorpion venom. Ancient Egyptians may have also associated hedgehogs with cycles of rebirth because they are hibernating animals.

This diminutive hedgehog belongs to a type of amulet that scholars call “scaraboids.” Objects like this one derive their name from the beetle-shaped scarab amulets they resemble. Both types of carvings feature inscriptions on their undersides: phrases, names, or images of animals or deities, intended to help bring about good luck and renewal. These patterns could also be used as personal or institutional stamp seals. Ancient Egyptians likely hoped to manifest the hedgehog’s strong qualities themselves by wearing a scaraboid shaped like the animal.


Currently Off View


Arts of Africa


Ancient Egyptian


Scaraboid in the Form of a Hedgehog


Egypt (Object made in)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.

1550 BCE–664 BCE




1.8 × 2 × 1.2 cm (3/4 × 13/16 × 1/2 in.)

Credit Line

Gift of Henry H. Getty and Charles L. Hutchinson

Reference Number


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Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email . Information about image downloads and licensing is available here.


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