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Heart Amulet with Head of a Scarab

Egyptian, Classical, Ancient Near Eastern Art

The heart was generally the only organ left inside the human mummy. Ancient Egyptians believed that the heart was the seat of one’s consciousness, and that it was weighed against the feather of truth during Osiris’s judgment of the deceased. If the scale remained in balance, the deceased was accepted into the afterlife. To ensure success, a heart scarab was placed close to the heart of the mummy. Its inscriptions asked the heart to support the deceased during judgment.

The unusual shape of this amulet represents an animal’s heart—the shape of the hieroglyph for “heart”—with the head of a scarab beetle, a symbol of regeneration.
MEDIUM Jade (probably)
  • Place Made: Egypt
  • DATES ca. 1539–1190 B.C.E.
    DYNASTY Dynasty 18 to Dynasty 19
    PERIOD New Kingdom
    DIMENSIONS 9/16 x 1 1/16 x 1 7/8 in. (1.5 x 2.7 x 4.8 cm) Weight: 0.1 lb. (31.7 g)  (show scale)
    CREDIT LINE Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund
    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Dull sea green with black grey and brown mottling and tan speckles in the shape of a heart, but with a scarab's head. The head is small and lunate-shaped with notched clypeus. The bottom surface is flat, and is inscribed with seven lines of hieroglyphs. Not pierced. Condition: Incrustation in notches of clypeus; otherwise good.
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    CAPTION Heart Amulet with Head of a Scarab, ca. 1539–1190 B.C.E. Jade (probably), 9/16 x 1 1/16 x 1 7/8 in. (1.5 x 2.7 x 4.8 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 37.492E. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 37.492E_top_PS2.jpg)
    IMAGE top, 37.492E_top_PS2.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2009
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    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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