Ancient Egypt, Late Period to Ptolemaic Period, ca. 664 to 30 BCE. A large, pale-colored limestone "heart" scarab with carved details of the head, wings, and legs and black lines painted on its surface to give it further detail, some of which remain. Heart scarabs are oval amulets that were used as personal protection, jewelry, and grave goods. In the Book of the Dead, they are prescribed to be made of stone. This scarab was most likely placed inside of a mummy's wrappings over its heart, which the ancient Egyptians believed to be the seat of the mind. After death, according to their beliefs, an individual's heart would be weighed against a feather by the jackal god Anubis before a panel of deities who waited at the gateway to the netherworld to judge the dead. If the heart was lighter than a feather, then the deceased could pass into the next life; if not, they would be devoured by a monster and cease to exist. Size: 1.55" W x 2.1" H (3.9 cm x 5.3 cm)
Provenance: ex-Julian Bird collection, London, UK, collection acquired 1970-2012
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