Steatite heart scarab amulet

From Egypt
New Kingdom, about 1550-1069 BC

The heart amulet became popular in the New Kingdom (about 1550-1070 BC) , at the same time as the Book of the Dead. It became one of the most important amulets, one or more being placed on the upper torso of nearly all mummies. Some examples are shaped like a bull's heart, the hieroglyphic sign for 'heart'. Others have a scarab shape, the insect being associated with rebirth.

The Egyptians regarded the heart as the seat of intelligence, emotion and memory. It was left in the body during mummification. If it was removed by mistake, it was sewn back into place. Four whole chapters of the Book of the Dead are concerned with making sure that the heart was not separated from the body. The weighing of the heart against the feather of truth determined whether the deceased would be allowed to enter the Afterlife. The underside of the heart amulet was often inscribed with a spell from the Book of the Dead, instructing it: 'do not be opposed in the tribunal'. The underside of this example is inscribed with Chapter 30b of the Book of the Dead.

The use of carnelian was prescribed for heart scarabs, but green and blue stones, symbolizing regeneration, were often used, and imitated in faience, frit or glass.

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Steatite heart scarab amulet

Heart scarab amulet

 

More information

Bibliography

C.A.R. Andrews, Amulets of Ancient Egypt (London, The British Museum Press, 1994)

Dimensions

Height: 1.850 cm
Length: 6.790 cm
Width: 4.080 cm

Museum number

EA 38073

YCA35374

Location

Find in the collection online



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