Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Scarab Beetle

Got dung?

What?!  Dung, you know, poop.  Why, you may ask, do you need that?  Well, in Ancient Egypt, the lowly dung beetle, or scarab beetle, was one of the most important symbols.  To understand why first we need to learn about the beetle.  Dung beetles find a nice ball of poop and roll it along the ground to its burrow, then the female lays its eggs in the ball.  The eggs hatch and the larvae eat the dung (ewww).  Then the larvae form a pupa and finally emerge fully formed from the ball of dung.  Metamorphoses in action.  However, ancient people had no science to understand this, so it must be the work of a god. They thought the beetles were just springing out of the ground and gave them the name "Khepera" or "Khepri", which means "he was come forth".  As the scholars tried to explain more of the way the world works, they associated the scarab beetle with the sun, it went something like this.  The (invisible?) scarab god would push his ball (the sun) across the sky and bury it (sunset), the ball would undergo its changes and re-emerge from the west the next morning.  Repeat daily.  I guess people back then didn't question the scholars too much because this story is pretty implausible, but it does explain why a beetle, basically a smelly, poop-covered cockroach was such an important symbol in Egypt.  We decided to make out own scarabs - minus the dung.

Art Project: Sacred Scarabs

For the project you will need:
  • paper plates- I found some oval shaped platters to look more beetle shaped, but round would work too.
  • black paper for legs and pincers
  • paint and brushes
  • glitter if you prefer a sparklier insect
1.  Paint your scarab whatever color you choose.  There are many different colors of beetles.  Not even sure what color it "should" be. They have wings so we painted a line down the back.
2.  Cut out legs and pincers.  the pincers go on front - shaped like big parentheses ( )  The front legs are longer and have a little crook (see picture) and the two sets of rear legs are just straight.  6 legs and 2 pincers per scarab.  I cut them out for the kids, but older kids could do it.
3.  Glue on legs/pincers and some eyes - I cut eyes out of paper or you could use googly eyes.  My son's scarab had 3 eyes and a "nose" but my daughter and I only used 2.

There, now all you need is a big ol' ball of poop.  We are using ours as part of our Halloween decorations outside.  They are going to be the giant spider's dinner. 

No comments:

Post a Comment