When you think of Ancient Egypt, what do you picture? The mighty pharaohs overseeing their grand empires? Magnificent art and ancient architecture? A giant god with a scarab beetle for a head?
If your mind jumped straight to the scarab beetles, then you might have been thinking of the Egyptian deity Khepri, who represented gluttony and indulgence in Egyptian mythology. (His scarab beetle head was to scale, incidentally, so he wasn’t a giant god with a tiny beetle head in case you were wondering.)
But how does a man with a scarab beetle head represent indulgence, I hear you cry? Well, Kephri’s association with all things gluttonous allegedly derives from an, er, delicious treat that was traditionally consumed in vast quantities around the time of the Ancient Egyptian new year.
What a load of crap: a scarab beetle on the look out for Khepri (Pixabay)
As part of the new year celebrations in Egypt, the children of each household would go out and gather as many scarab beetles as they could. These were then mashed up and mixed with goat’s milk, ground barley flour and spices, and stirred in a vessel until the entire medley formed a kind of thick red paste. This paste was then rolled into sticks and left outside on reeded mats, to bake in the sun.
Once dried, these sticks of mashed beetle guts transformed into a crunchy snack, that could be enjoyed alongside copious amounts of ale as part of the new year festivities.
So Kephri’s association with gluttony and indulgence comes from what was essentially an Ancient Egyptian bar snack, made from crushed beetles of the same type that as Kephri supposedly had as a head. I suppose as gods go, having the people eat manifestations of your own head could be considered a compliment...?