Scarab ring bought by Sister Selina Lily (Lil) Mackenzie as a souvenir of her time in Egypt during World War I. The scarab is the Egyptian symbol of immortality. Lil nursed at the 1st Australian General Hospital from October 1915 to January 1917. The 1st AGH was located in the Heliopolis Palace Hotel on the north-eastern edge of Cairo.

The scarab appears to be that of Thutmosis III (Menkheperre), possibly with the added epithet 'Nefer-s'. A similar motif is seen on a scarab in the Portland Museum, USA, dated to the New Kingdom (1540-1075 BCE), reg. no. 29.16.538. The date of the ring has not yet been investigated.

Physical Description

Narrow gold shank with raised prongs. A scarabaeus beetle carved in stone is attached to the prong mounts with screws so that the scarab can swivel.


This collection provides an important insight into the role of women (in this instance nurses) who served during World War I, and is being collected as a possible story line for the planned centenary of WWI celebrations. Sister Selina Lily (Lil) Mackenzie served in Egypt, France, Italy and England between 1915 and 1920. A keen photographer, Lil took images of her time in Egypt; the photographs were carefully placed in albums, and chronicle the hospital at which she served (in a grand hotel, and Luna Park Cairo). The camera on which these images were taken is part of this collection, the inside of the leather case bearing Lil's name with the date 1915 and location Cairo, Egypt. Also donated in this group are Lil's nursing capes, one made of a very light-weight silk (necessary in the extreme heat of Egypt); buttons carefully removed from her uniforms and kept by the family; and souvenirs from Egypt. Lastly, three hand-towels, woven by Lil when a resident of RSL House (a retirement home) in her 80s are included in the group.
Photographs of Cairo, taken on the camera being donated in this group, have been offered to the museum by another family member.

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