Heart Amulet

1967.60r

On display

Amulet carved from carnelain in the shape of the heart-shaped hieroglyph, taking the form of a jar with lug handles, perhaps representing veins and arteries. There is a pierced suspension loop at the top. Heart-shaped amulets were believed to protect the wearer's heart from both physical and spiritual harm both in life and after death. Spell 29b in the Book of the Dead states that such amulets should ideally be carved from the red-coloured stone carnelian. In the ancient Egyptian language the word heart (ib) appears in the expression for a close friend, “one who has entered the heart” (ak-ib). One of thirty-two amulets removed from a mummy on 8 December 1966 at Aintree University Hospital, Merseyside. The mummy was in a damaged state and it's accession history had been lost so the museum decided to cut it apart to remove the amulets that were revealed by X-ray in 1966. This is one of four heart-shaped amulets originally strung together, but only fragments of the thread survived. It was positioned lying on the breast of the mummified man in the thoracic region.