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Heart scarab or heart amulet in black stone, probably basalt or steatite. This is 10 cm long and 7cm wide and very damaged.  Such items date to the Rameside Period (1186-1295 BC). Rameside heart scarabs combine the idea of transformation and the heart in one.

The remains of a human head can be identified by the wig lappets. A broad collar is represented around the neck. On the chest is a sun disc with uraei flanked by two ?hawks wearing crowns. These birds are facing inward. At the base is a winged scarab. The underside is very damaged and no inscription is visible.  


On other such amulets the head is either that of Osiris or of the deceased. Birds on such amulets are usually benu birds or ba birds rather than hawks.  

Heart scarabs were worn by the mummy to ensure that the heart did not bear witness against the deceased. They were often inscribed with spell 30B of the Book of the Dead and were placed on the upper torso of the deceased. They were closely connected with Osiris. Gee (2009) believes that the heart was strongly associated with the balance weight, and that spell 30B should be translated as beginning ‘Oh my heart of the balance weight’ rather than the more traditional translation ‘Oh mu heart from my mother’. Moreover that heart scarabs, in actual weight, correspond to Egyptian weights. He sees the heart scarab as a manifestation of the trasformations through which a person can go, from birth, to death and rebirth (the Egyptian name for scarab is khepri which mean ‘transformation’).


Further Readiing

Gee, J. 2009. Of Heart Scarabs and Balance Weights: A New Interpretation of Book of the Dead 30B. The Journal of the Society for the Study of Egyptian Antiquities, 36, 1-15.

Sousa, R. 2007. ‘The heart amulet in ancient Egypt: A typological study’. Goyon, J-C. and Cardin (eds.). Proceedings of the Ninth International Congress of Egyptologists. Vol 1, 713-721. Leuvein, Paris, Dudley.

R. Sousa 2007. ‘The meaning of the Heart Amulets in Egyptian Art’. JARCE 43, 59-70.

Sousa, R. 2011. The Heart of Wisdom: Studies on the Heart Amulet in Ancient Egypt. Oxford: British Archaeological Reports.



A judgment scene with the heart of the deceased

Information on mummification


Information on scarabs