The Freud Museum

Heart Scarab

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4004, Heart Scarab, New Kingdom (18th-19th Dynasty); 1540-1190 B.C.)

Culture: Egyptian
Material: Serpentine
Dimensions: 1 x 1 5/8 x 2 _ in 2.4 x 4 x 5.6 cm

This heart scarab was once used Egyptian funerary rituals. The scarab beetle, which lays its eggs in dead matter from which life later springs forth, was connected with the concept of rebirth and resurrection. As a result, scarab beetles had a special place in mortuary ceremonies, often in the form of amulets which would be wrapped within the bandages around the heart during mummification.

In the afterlife, ancient Egyptians believed that there was a Weighing of the Heart ceremony in which the deeds and virtues of the deceased were measured, deciding whether he would go to the underworld with Osiris or be thrown to ‘the Eater,’ a composite monster, to die a second death. The scarab would intervene in the Weighing of the Heart, preventing the heart from testifying against itself. The heart was weighed against the feather of Maat, goddess of truth and justice.

The underside of Freud’s heart scarab has seven lines of hieroglyphic text that identify the deceased along with lines from the Book of the Dead.

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