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Papyrus from the Book of the Dead of Anhai

British Museum

British Museum

The final judgement of the deceased was a popular vignette (illustrated scene) in the ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead. It accompanied the spell in which the heart of the deceased declares before a tribunal of forty-two gods that he or she has not committed a long list of specific sins. This is known as the 'Negative Confession'. The heart was prevented from lying or informing against the deceased by a spell on the back of the heart scarab placed over the heart on the mummy.At the same time, the heart of the deceased is weighed against either a figure of Maat, or her symbol, the feather. This goddess embodied the concepts of justice, truth and balance. In this example, Anhai is shown on the right of the scene, adoring the gods, and holding a sistrum and convolvulus vine. The weighing of the heart itself is illustrated between Anhai and the tribunal. The emphasis on the tribunal, with its two rows of crouching bird- and animal-headed deities, is unusual. At the bottom is the goddess Maat, wearing the feather on her head. Above is Horus with the scales, with Thoth at the top ready to record the outcome.

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  • Title: Papyrus from the Book of the Dead of Anhai
  • Physical Dimensions: Length: 73.50cm (frame); Width: 45.70cm (frame)
  • External Link: British Museum collection online
  • Registration number: 1888,0512.222.6
  • Place: Found/Acquired Egypt
  • Period/culture: 20th Dynasty
  • Material: papyrus
  • Copyright: Photo: © Trustees of the British Museum
  • Acquisition: Purchased through Budge, Ernest Alfred Thompson Wallis
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