About this object

Heart scarab of serpentine inscribed with eight horizontal lines of hieroglyphs. The underside bears Chapter 30B of the Book of the Dead for the Mistress of the House and Chantress of Amun, Metha (MtHA).

The ancient Egyptians believed that a person’s heart contained proof of whether they had behaved well or badly in life. No one could claim a life free of sin, but if they were lucky enough to own a heart scarab, they could cheat their way into the Afterlife. The journey through the Afterlife was full of obstacles and challenges. The final hurdle was to be judged at the court of Osiris. Here a person’s heart was removed and weighed by the god Anubis. Wicked people had heavy hearts and were sent to ‘Hell’. A light heart meant an honest life and entry to the Afterlife. Heart scarabs were placed inside the mummy close to the heart. A person’s biggest fear was that their heart would speak out against them during the final judgement. So a magical spell (Chapter 30B of the Book of the Dead) written on the scarab silenced the heart and guaranteed entry into the Afterlife.

Object specifics

  • Type
    Religion
  • Culture
    Third Intermediate Period
  • Artist/Maker
    Unknown or unrecorded
  • Place made
    Africa: Northern Africa: Egypt
  • Date made
    1069 BC - 747 BC
  • Materials
    Serpentine
  • Location
    World Museum, Level 3, Ancient Egypt Gallery
  • Acquisition
    Gift of Joseph Mayer
  • Collector
    Joseph Mayer
  • Place collected
    Africa: Northern Africa: Egypt
  • Date collected
    1867 before
  • Measurements
    51 mm x 36 mm x 22 mm; 2 in x 1 7/16 in x 7/8 in
  • Related people
    Joseph Mayer (Collector, previous owner)

Ownership

Previous owners

  • Joseph Mayer

    Owned from: Unknown or unrecorded
    How acquired: Unknown or unrecorded
    Owned until: 1867
    Disposal method: Unknown or unrecorded
Object view = Humanities
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