Heart Scarab

1977.112.257

On display

Heart scarab of green jasper inscribed with eleven horizontal lines of hieroglyphs on the underside, Chapter 30B of the Book of the Dead, and a short incised inscription at the tail which is partly obscured by gold band. Possibly inscribed for Khnum? Strips of gold around the base, across elytra and down marking division of wing cases. Clypeus, head, prothorax and elytra are all clearly marked. An exceptional example of the late New Kingdom. 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.