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Heart Scarab of Hatnefer

New Kingdom
Dynasty 18, early
reign of Thutmose II–Early Joint reign
ca. 1492–1473 B.C.
From Egypt, Upper Egypt; Thebes, Sheikh Abd el-Qurna, Tomb of Hatnefer and Ramose (below TT 71), Mummy of Hatnefer, MMA 1935–1936
Serpentine, gold
l. (scarab) 6.6 cm (2 5/8 in); w. 5.3 cm (2 1/16 in); h. 2.8 cm (1 1/8 in); l. (chain) 77.5 cm (30.1/2 in)
Credit Line:
Rogers Fund, 1936
Accession Number:
  • Description

    Hatnefer's heart scarab is an exceptionally fine example of this type of funerary equipment and is comparable to those made for contemporary royalty. It was certainly a royal gift. Every feature of the scarab beetle is carefully rendered. The exquisite chain is made of gold wire, plaited in a quadruple-link pattern. The scarab's base is engraved with a version of Book of the Dead (chapter 30A), in which the deceased addresses her own heart, exhorting it not to bear witness against Hatnefer's spirit (ka) in the final judgment in the afterlife. Hatnofer's name was inserted over an erased text, indicating that the scarab was not made for her.
    Heart Scarab Text:
    The Mistress of the House, Hatnefer, says: "Heart of my mother, heart of my mother, heart of my (actual) being, do not rise up against me as a witness; do not contend against me in the court of judgment; do not make opposition against me in the presence of the keeper of the balance. You are my bodily ka, a Khnum who has invigorated my limbs. When you ascend to the perfection from which we have come, do not cause our names to stink to the entourage who create mankind in their proper stations, but rather may it go well with us and with the listener, so that the judge may rejoice. Do not devise lies against me in the presence of the god, for your reckoning is at hand."
    For other objects from Hatnefer's burial see 36.3.1, 36.3.3–.6.

  • Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings

    Inscription: Chapter 30B, Book of the Dead

  • Provenance

    Excavated by the Egyptian Expedition of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1935–1936. Acquired by the Museum in the division of finds, 1936.

  • See also
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History