Part of a funerary papyrus showing the judgment before Osiris

Ptolemaic Period

Not on view

This fragment from a larger papyrus depicts the ritual of the Weighing of the Heart, in which the deceased demonstrated that he or she had lived an ethical life. Also known as the Judgment Before Osiris, this trial took place in the Netherworld, in the Hall of the Two Truths. The architecture of this chamber is defined by two papyrus columns topped by a cavetto cornice. The top of the cornice is protected by alternating ostrich plumes, the hieroglyphs for ma'at, or truth, braziers representing fire, and rearing cobras. Two baboons, representing the god of writing, Thoth, sit on either end of the roof, each with a scale that identifies the purpose of the hall.

Two figures of the goddess Maat, embodiments of the proper order of the Egyptian cosmos, lead the deceased into the hall. To the left, Osiris sits on a throne inside a small kiosk, with the Four Sons of Horus(deities who protected the mummified viscera) standing on a papyrus blossom before him. The ibis-headed god Thoth, holding scribal equipment in one hand, presents the positive outcome of the trial to Osiris.

Once in the hall, the deceased recited the "Negative Confession," claiming that he had done no wrong during his lifetime on earth. His fate was decided by the panel of 42 judges that sit in two rows in the upper part of the scene. Each judge wears a ma'at feather on his head, and holds a knife.

At the culmination of this ceremony, the heart, seen as the center of intelligence and emotion, was weighed against a squatting figure of the goddess Ma’at by the jackal-headed god of embalming, Anubis. If the scales balanced, Osiris accepted the deceased into his company and granted him eternal life. If not, the heart would be eaten by the monster Ammut (the Devourer), shown as a hippopotamus with a crocodile head, and the person would die forever.

Part of a funerary papyrus showing the judgment before Osiris, Papyrus, ink

Due to rights restrictions, this image cannot be enlarged, viewed at full screen, or downloaded.

Open Access

As part of the Met's Open Access policy, you can freely copy, modify and distribute this image, even for commercial purposes.


Public domain data for this object can also be accessed using the Met's Open Access API.