The heart was considered by the Egyptians to be the most important organ, not because it pumped blood around the body, but because it was the seat of intelligence and the origin of all feelings and actions. The heart became one of the most important of all amulets and was set on the torso of every mummy, deemed to protect the heart of the beholder. Furthermore, the heart acted as the store of an individual’s memory, and so at the judgment ceremony (Weighing of the Heart) in the afterlife, the heart could speak on the behalf of the deceased. As the heart accounted to Osiris for a lifetime of deeds, protection of the organ with an amulet was necessary to ensure that it could give a positive response at judgment.
Recent research on mummies has found that many suffered from atherosclerosis – a build up of fat and calcium in the arteries, which is thought to have been a significant killer in ancient Egypt. Perhaps this amulet suggests ancient awareness of the condition and its connection with the heart, with the wearer desiring the amulet’s appropriate protective powers.
To find out more about Ancient Egyptian amulets please see our relevant blog post: Egyptian Amulets and their Meanings.