This 3 1/2 " X 2 1/4 " - 1 3/4" high scarrab was purchassed from an antiquarian in Thebes (EGYPT) IN 1975. It is made of Steatite, also called Black Pipestone, a soft metamorphic rock rather than a mineral. It is mainly composed of the mineral talc. Steatite is dense and close grained, with practically no stratification or natural cleavage lines and has a high transverse strength and high resistance to crushing. On Mohs Scale of Hardness Steatite has a range of 2 to 5. Because of its high talc content, it's composition is mainly hydrated magnesium silicate. Also referred to as soapstone, Steatite also contains varying amounts of chlorite and amphiboles. What makes this rock so nice for carving is that it resists the tendency to split, flake, chip or spall. Its texture is "soapy" to the touch, much like the red pipestone or catlinite. Steatite is light gray in color.
This scarab differs from more commonplace funerary scarabs by the inclusion of a meticulously cartved and well preserved pharaonic effigy framed by ceremonial snakes - plus a well preserved hieroglyphic inscription on verso. More detailed photos upon request.