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Ammit in hieroglyphs
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ꜥm-mwt
devourer of the dead
Ammit.svg

Ammit (/ˈæmɪt/; Ancient Egyptian: ꜥm-mwt, "devourer of the dead";[1] also rendered Ammut or Ahemait) was a goddess in ancient Egyptian religion with the forequarters of a lion, the hindquarters of a hippopotamus, and the head of a crocodile—the three largest "man-eating" animals known to ancient Egyptians. A funerary deity, her titles included "Devourer of the Dead", "Eater of Hearts", and "Great of Death".[2] Ammit lived near the scales of justice in Duat, the Egyptian underworld. In the Hall of Two Truths, Anubis weighed the heart of a person against the feather of Ma'at, the goddess of truth, which was depicted as an ostrich feather (the feather was often pictured in Ma'at's headdress). If the heart was judged to be 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". Ammit was also sometimes said to stand by a lake of fire. In some traditions, the unworthy hearts were cast into the fiery lake to be destroyed. Some scholars believe Ammit and the lake represent the same concept of destruction.

Ammit was not worshipped; instead, she embodied all that the Egyptians feared, threatening to bind them to eternal restlessness if they did not follow the principle of Ma'at.

Iconography

Ammit is commonly depicted with the head of a crocodile, the front legs and upper body of a lion, and the back legs and lower body of a hippopotamus. The combination of these three deadly predators suggests that no evil soul can escape Ammit's annihilation.[3] Ammit has also been depicted with other Egyptian gods weighing the heart of a person after they have passed, and this is where the destiny of a person is decided.[4] If a person is deemed evil, Ammit will destroy the heart and the person is annihilated.[3]

In popular culture

Saba Mubarak portrays Ammit in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) television series Moon Knight (2022).[5]

This detail scene 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. The ibis-headed Thoth, scribe of the gods, records the result. If his heart is lighter than the feather, Hunefer is allowed to pass into the afterlife. If not, he is eaten by the waiting Ammit. Vignettes such as these were a common illustration in Egyptian books of the dead.[6]
This detail scene 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. The ibis-headed Thoth, scribe of the gods, records the result. If his heart is lighter than the feather, Hunefer is allowed to pass into the afterlife. If not, he is eaten by the waiting Ammit. Vignettes such as these were a common illustration in Egyptian books of the dead.[6]

See also

References

  1. ^ a b Erman, Adolf; Grapow, Hermann (1926-1961) Wörterbuch der ägyptischen Sprache, Berlin: Akademie-Verlag, volume 1, page 184.9
  2. ^ Hart, George (2005). The Routledge Dictionary of Egyptian Gods and Goddesses, Second Edition. Routledge. ISBN 978-0-203-02362-4.
  3. ^ a b Hart, George; George, Hart (April 8, 1986). A Dictionary of Egyptian Gods and Goddesses (1st ed.). Taylor & Francis Group. pp. 3–4. ISBN 9780203136447.
  4. ^ Bunson, Margaret (2012). "Judgment Halls of Osiris". Encyclopedia of Ancient Egypt (3rd ed.). Facts On File.
  5. ^ "Who Voices Ammit In Moon Knight's Final Episode?". ScreenRant. 2022-05-04. Retrieved 2022-05-10.
  6. ^ "Egyptian Book of the Dead". Egyptartsite.com. Archived from the original on 2012-09-26. Retrieved 2012-08-18.