About this object

Heart scarab of limestone. Underside is inscribed with horizontal lines of hieroglyphs and a representation of the deceased adoring a god.

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. Sometimes a magical spell (Chapter 30B of the Book of the Dead) was written on the scarab; it silenced the heart and guaranteed entry into the Afterlife.

Object specifics

  • Type
    Religion
  • Culture
    New Kingdom
  • Artist/Maker
    Unknown or unrecorded
  • Place made
    Africa: Northern Africa: Egypt
  • Date made
    1186 BC - 1069 BC about
  • Materials
    Limestone
  • Location
    World Museum, Level 3, Ancient Egypt Gallery
  • Acquisition
    Gift of the Trustees of the Wellcome Collection
  • Collector
    Henry Solomon Wellcome
  • Place collected
    Africa: Northern Africa: Egypt
  • Date collected
    Unknown or unrecorded
  • Measurements
    20 mm x 45 mm x 60 mm; 13/16 in x 1 3/4 in x 2 3/8 in
  • Related people

Ownership

Previous owners

Object view = Humanities
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