The heart amulet has had various uses during ancient Egyptian history but by the 18th dynasty it was mainly used as a symbol of wisdom and purity to be given to Osiris in the afterlife. It was at the centre of the weighing of the heart ritual whereby it was given to the deceased in a symbolic way to denote purity and wisdom against corruption. By the late period there was a huge increase in the use of heart amulets across all sections of the population. Its role now included the power to guard against evil and assure good health.
A heart amulet in the form of a scarab was used because symbolically the scarab beetle represented the sun god due to its regenerative abilities. It was there to stimulate the heart of the deceased back to life. Symbolically the scarab beetle also represented ‘transformation.’ It was there to assist the deceased’s heart with magical changes described in Spells 76-88. It had Chapter 30 B from the ‘Book of the Dead’ inscribed on it to assist the deceased in the weighing of the heart against the feather of truth. Ultimately it was there to prevent the deceased from being condemned by Osiris
British Museum - Steatite heart scarab amulet, New Kingdom, EA 38073
|Metropolitan Museum of Art - Glass heart amulets, Dynasty 18–19 (ca. 1550–1186 B.C.), Gift
of Helen Miller Gould, 1910 (10.130.1782)|