Heart amulet of Iay

Heart scarab of Iay

Egyptian
New Kingdom, Dynasty 18–19
1550–1186 B.C.


Findspot: Egypt

Dimensions

Height x width: 4.2 x 3 cm (1 5/8 x 1 3/16 in.)

Accession Number

1997.82

Medium or Technique

Steatite

On View

Egyptian Funerary Arts Gallery (Mummies) (Gallery 109)

Collections

Jewelry, The Ancient World

Classifications

Scarabs and scaraboids

Black, heart-shaped with image of human robed figure reaching to “Benu bird” on left. Inscription on back of a spell from the Book of Dead.

[Alternate Text:]
The heart scarab evolved as an important part of the funerary trappings during the Second Intermediate Period and the New Kingdom. Later heart scarabs, such as those exhibited elsewhere in this case, are shaped like scarab beetles; this early one is in the form ancient Egyptians used to represent the human heart.

The deceased is shown wearing a long robe and with his hands upraised, worshiping a benu bird, symbolic of resurrection. The back of the amulet is inscribed with the Book of the Dead spell that compels the heart to avoid self-incrimination.

Provenance

By 1997: with Alan Jerome Eisenberg; 1997: purchased from Royal Athena Gallery by private collector; 1997: given to the MFA anonymously in memory of Dennis George Miles.

Credit Line

Gift in memory of Dennis George Miles