Ammit: The Goddess Of Doom; Judgment Knows No Mercy!


As we know, in all religions, there are two ways to the end: one to paradise and the other to hell, and at the gate of heaven, one will be judged which way is its end. Here, the Egyptian saga is much more practical and quick! A fascinating way of determining the human’s fate by a Goddess, devouring ruined hearts!

Ammit is a creature sometimes depicted as attending the Judgment of the Soul [fr] (Judgment of the Dead) before Osiris, Chapter 125 of the Book of the Dead. Osiris presided over the Judgment as the ruler of Duat, the Egyptian underworld, in the depictions during the New Kingdom, and Judgment took place in the Hall of the Two Truths (or Two Ma’ats). Anubis, the Guardian of the Scales, conducted the dead towards the weighing instrument so that the deceased’s heart could be weighed against the feather[d] of Ma’at, the goddess of truth.

Judgment of the Soul from the Papyrus of Hunefer (ca. 1375 B.C.) shows Hunefer‘s heart being weighed on the scale of Maat against the feather of truth, by the jackal-headed Anubis, and Ammit lying in wait to eat the heart if it fails the test. The ibis-headed Thothscribe of the gods, records the result.

If the heart were judged impure, Ammit would devour it, and the person undergoing Judgment was not allowed to continue their voyage towards Osiris and immortality. Once Ammit swallowed the heart, the soul was believed to become restless forever; this was called “to die a second time”.
Thus Ammit is often depicted sitting in a crouched posture near the scale, ready to eat the heart. However, the Book of the Dead served as both guide and guarantee so that the buried dead with it always succeeded in the trial, leaving Ammit ever-hungry, and the consecrated dead could then bypass the Lake of Fire (Chapter 126.)

She is associated with the demon Babai.

The Pic at the top: via File: BD Weighing of the Heart.jpg

Here is another brilliant article, by Marie Grillot, on this Goddess of Judgement and the find of her Stele with excellent analysis.

via égyptophile

Ammit: Malevolent Goddess or Benevolent Monster?

Stele representing the goddess Ammout, the devouring – limestone – Ptolemaic period (332-330 BC)
Department of Egyptian Antiquities of the Louvre Museum E 21159 (assignment 1948 Musée Guimet)
photo © 2006 Louvre Museum / Georges Poncet

The curious creature depicted on this limestone stele inspires fear, even scaring, and generates many questions in us… How to define it? How to interpret this subtle – or puzzling? – “hybridisation”, which combines borrowings from the morphology of several animals to arrive, finally, at this somewhat off-putting appearance?

The goddess “Ammout” is a “hybrid and formidable animal of the Egyptian mythological bestiary. Indeed, this disturbing beast combines the head and body of a hippopotamus, hindquarters and paws of a lion, and is armed with slender knives, n ‘is other than the Devouring’…

On this stele, she is seated, leaning on her front legs. Slightly offset, they are effectively similar to those of a lion. Its body is fat, and its udders are those heavy and protuberant of the hippopotamus.

Its crocodile head has its mouth open as if ready to bite, to swallow… The eyes are round, and the tripartite wig leaves the ear visible, but perhaps the word “mane” would be better suited….

The latent force, which seems able to awaken to free itself at any moment, is accentuated by the blades visible at its feet: “This aggressiveness ready to be unleashed is reinforced by the presence of sharp knives which emerge from its members. Cutlery genius, she intimidatingly guards the passage, the door sculpted here in limestone” (Nathalie Couton-Perche).

She is, however, protected at the back of her skull by the beneficial presence of “the Horus of Behedet in the form of a winged disc bearing a uraeus”.

The goddess Ammit is present during the scene of the weighing of the heart, psychostasis, which is often illustrated in tombs or on papyri. At the time of judgment before the tribunal of Osiris, the deceased’s heart is placed on one of the scales: it must then be in perfect balance with the feather of Ma’at, placed on the other scale. If for the greatest misfortune of the “postulant for eternity”, this was not the case, Ammit would then swallow his heart, depriving him forever of the afterlife…

Ptolemaic Temple of Hathor and Maat. Gods Thoth, Horus the Younger and Ammit. Deir el-Medina. Egypt

In “Ancient Egypt and its gods”, Jean-Pierre Corteggiani thus presents to us the great devouring [or swallower of the West], sometimes also called “sow”: “In the vignette which is probably the best known of the Book of the Dead, the one that illustrates chapter 125 and shows the weighing of the heart, almost always figures, from the end of the XVIIIth dynasty, a hybrid being who waits, more or less far from the balance, the result of the operation, in other words, the judgment of the court of Osiris… It is there to engulf the heart of the deceased who would not emerge triumphant from his confrontation with the feather of Maât, which represents equity”.

As for Isabelle Franco, in her “Dictionary of Egyptian Mythology”, she gives us an interesting and, it must be admitted, rather “reconciling” analysis: “Her role is to make disappear forever those who have not been justified by the court of Osiris. She should not be considered an evil monster but, on the contrary, a beneficial character whose role – like that of all the guardian entities – is to purify the surroundings of the divine world by suppressing the beings harmful people who would like to access it”.

Fragment of funerary papyrus showing the scene of the judgment of the deceased, before Osiris, in the presence of Ammit
Ptolemaic period – Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York – accession number: 66.99.142

This stele, 35.2 cm high, 27.5 cm wide and 10.5 cm thick, is dated to the Ptolemaic period (332-330 BC).

It retains, in its lower parts, some traces of red ochre, which suggest that it was probably painted.

Initially exhibited at the Musée Guimet in Paris, it was transferred to the Louvre in 1948 as part of a vast reorganisation of the national collections and registered under the reference E 21159.

Marie Grillot



The gates of heaven: visions of the world in ancient Egypt, March 2009, Jocelyne Berlandini-Keller, Annie Gasse, Luc Gabolde
Of animals and pharaohs – The animal kingdom in ancient Egypt – exhibition catalogue: Louvre-Lens 5-12-2014 to 9-3-2015, CaixaForum Madrid 31-3-2015 to 23-8-2015, CaixaForum Barcelona 22-9-2015 to 10-1-2016
Dictionary of Egyptian Mythology, Isabelle Franco, 2013
Ancient Egypt and its gods, Jean-Pierre Corteggiani, 2007
Journey Through the Afterlife: Ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead, John H. Taylor
The Louvre Museum’s collection of late Egyptian stelae, Thomas Lebée

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