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Name in hieroglyphsEgyptian: ꜥm-mwt[1]

(devourer of the dead)

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Ammit (/ˈæmɪt/; Ancient Egyptian: ꜥm-mwt, "Devourer of the Dead"; 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.


Ammit (Ancient Egyptian: ꜥm-mwt; Ʒmt mwtw[2]) literally means 'devourer of the dead"[3][1] ('Devoureress of the Dead'[4][6]) or 'Swallower of the Dead',[2] where ꜥm is the verb 'to swallow',[7] and mwt signifies 'the dead', more specifically the dead who had been adjudged not to belong to the akhu 'blessed dead' who abided by the code of truth (ma'at).[3][a]

Weighing of the Heart

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 Thoth, scribe of the gods, records the result.[b][8]
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 Thoth, scribe of the gods, records the result.[b][8]

Ammit is a creature sometimes depicted as attending the Judgment of the Soul [fr] (Judgment of the Dead) before Osiris, Chapter 125 of Book of the Dead.[9][2] Osiris presided over the judgment as the ruler of Duat, the Egyptian underworld, in the depictions during the New Kingdom[c][3][10] and judgment took place in the Hall of the Two Truths (or Two Maats).[3] Anubis, the Guardian of the Scales, conducted the dead towards the weighing instrument,[12] so that the heart of the dead can be weighed against the feather[d] of Ma'at, the goddess of truth.[3][10][11]

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".[2][9][13]

Thus Ammit is often depicted sitting in a crouched posture near the scale, ready to eat the heart.[9][10] However, the Book of the Dead served as both guide and guarantee, so that the dead buried with it always succeeded in the trial, leaving Ammit ever-hungry, and the consecrated dead was then able to bypass the Lake of Fire of Chapter 126.[2]


Ammit. Papyrus of Ani.
Ammit. Papyrus of Ani.

Ammit/Ammut is denoted a female entity, commonly depicted with the head of a crocodile, the forelegs and upper body of a lion (or leopard[4][5][15]), and the hind legs and lower body of a hippopotamus.[5] She is part lioness[16] according to her gender, but her leonine feature may present in the form of a mane,[17][18] which is usually associated with male lions.[19] In some examples, Ammit is seen as having a mane resembling a wig,[20] and in the Papyrus of Ami (See image right) she is adorned with the tricolored nemes (wig cover)[10] worn by the pharaohs.

The Ammit/Ammut of the crocodile-lion-hippopotamus hybrid variety was the conventional type during the New Kingdom of Egypt (18th to 20th dynasties), during which she may or may not have appeared in the scene of the judgment of the dead soul before Osiris (Chapter/Spell 125) of the Book of the Dead, also painted on tomb walls besides funerary papyri.[9] Later a stylistic shift occurred, and Ammit/Ammut took on a different form bearing a hippopotamus-like head, and a dog-like body with rows of paps (breasts) or nipples,[9][21] for example on the coffin lid of the chief Ankhhor (22nd century),[9] as it became common to paint the heart-weighing scene on the insides of coffins (21st century), and later on the exterior.[9][24][21]

The combination of these three deadly predators (crocodile, lion, hippo) suggests that no evil soul can escape Ammit's annihilation.[4] 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.[25] If a person is deemed evil, Ammit will destroy the heart and the person is annihilated.[4]

In popular culture

Saba Mubarak portrays Ammit in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) television series Moon Knight (2022).[26] In the Mummies Alive! cartoon series, the main villain Scarab accidentally summons Ammut, and she sticks around. In the show, she is a dog-like and rather small sized pet who does not speak. In Rick Riordan’s series, the Kane Chronicles, Ammit is portrayed. In Primeval Ammit was a Pristichampsus that came through a Anomaly a gateway in time to ancient Egypt and ancient Egyptians believed they were gods.

See also

Explanatory notes

  1. ^ She was also called "eater of hearts", and "great of death" in her capacity as an underworld deity.[5]
  2. ^ Vignettes such as these were a common illustration in Egyptian books of the dead.
  3. ^ With Osiris accompanied Isis and Nephthys and the Sons of Horus. In later times, it judgment was presided by Ra.[3]
  4. ^ Often illustrated as an ostrich feather (the feather was often pictured in Ma'at's headdress).


  1. ^ a b Erman, Adolf; Grapow, Hermann, eds. (1926). "ꜥm". Wörterbuch der ägyptischen Sprache (PDF). Vol. 1. Berlin: Akademie-Verlag. p. 104.9. ꜥm-mwt Totenfressen (Name des Tiers beim Totengericht) [Feeding/feeder on the dead. (Name of the beast at the judgment of the dead)]
  2. ^ a b c d e Snape, Steven (2011). "Rekhmire and the Tomb of the Well-Known Soldier". Ancient Egyptian Tombs: The Culture of Life and Death. John Wiley & Sons. p. 198. ISBN 9781405120890.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Taylor, John H. (2001). "Death and Resurrection in Ancient Egyptian Society". Death and the Afterlife in Ancient Egypt. University of Chicago Press. pp. 36–38. ISBN 9780226791647.
  4. ^ a b c d e Hart, George (April 8, 1986). A Dictionary of Egyptian Gods and Goddesses (1st ed.). Taylor & Francis Group. pp. 3–4. ISBN 9780203136447.; —— (2005) [1986]. "Introduction; Ammut". The Routledge Dictionary of Egyptian Gods and Goddesses. pp. 7, 12–13. ISBN 9780415344951.
  5. ^ a b c d Wilkinson, Richard H. (2003). The complete gods and goddesses of ancient Egypt. Internet Archive. Thames & Hudson. p. 218. ISBN 978-0-500-05120-7.
  6. ^ Female "devourer of the dead".[5]
  7. ^ Erman & Grapow (1926), p. 103. ꜥm 'verschlucken [swallow]'
  8. ^ "Egyptian Book of the Dead". Archived from the original on 2012-09-26. Retrieved 2012-08-18.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g Taylor, John H. (2019). "The Mummies and Coffins of Ankh-hor and Heribrer". In Kalloniatis, Faye (ed.). The Egyptian Collection at Norwich Castle Museum: Catalogue and Essays. Oxbow Books. p. 23. ISBN 9781789251999.
  10. ^ a b c d Von Dassow (2008), p. 155.
  11. ^ a b Budge, E. A. Wallis (1988) [1934]. From Fetish to God in Ancient Egypt. Dover. pp. 213, 294. ISBN 9780486258034.
  12. ^ Lay literature sees fit to say that Anubis drops the heart on the scale, but scholarship stops at stating that Anubis drags the person to the scale, and also attending to the pan and plumb bob of the scale in the weighing process (e.g. Budge,[11] Taylor here.[3])
  13. ^ Kleiner, Fred S. (2020-01-01). Gardner's Art through the Ages: The Western Perspective, Volume I. Cengage Learning. p. 57. ISBN 978-0-357-37048-3.
  14. ^ Von Dassow (2008), Pl. 3.
  15. ^ Cf. one depiction in Egyptian Book of the Dead, Papyrus of Ani, Chapter 30B (Pl. 3), where Ammit is shown with a torso of spotted fur (See image right).[14]
  16. ^ Venit, Marjorie Susan (2016). "Tradition and Innovation in the Tombs of the Egyptian Chora". Visualizing the Afterlife in the Tombs of Graeco-Roman Egypt. Cambridge University Press. p. 142. ISBN 9781107048089.
  17. ^ Cf. Depiction on the Papyrus of Hunefer, Dyn. XIX, British Museum (shown right). A line drawing of the creature in the papyrus is given by Hart.[4]
  18. ^ a b Gibson, Gayle (2021). "The Place of Silence: Musings on a Partial Ptolemaic Burial Shroud Recently Rediscovered in the Royal Ontario Museum". In Geisen, Christina; Li, Jean; Shubert, Steven B.; Yamamoto, Kei (eds.). His Good Name: Essays on Identity and Self-Presentation in Ancient Egypt in Honor of Ronald J. Leprohon. ISD LLC. p. 180. ISBN 9781948488389.
  19. ^ Kondo, Jiro [in Japanese] (December 2009). "Kodai Ejiputo no reikonkan" 古代エジプトの霊魂観. Intriguing Asia アジア遊学 (128 古代世界の霊魂観): 19.
  20. ^ "mane that hangs down like a tripartite wig" on a burial shroud, Royal Ontario Museum.[18]
  21. ^ a b Venit, Marjorie Susan (2009). "Avaleuses et dévoreuses: des déesses aux démones en Égypte ancienne". Chronique d'Égypte (in French). 84: 13.
  22. ^ Von Dassow (2008), Pl. 11.
  23. ^ "Papyrus of Ani, sheet 11 (vignette)", The Archive for Research in Archetypal Symbolism (ARAS), JSTOR community.11652438
  24. ^ Cf. Egyptian Book of the Dead, Papyrus of Ani, Chapter 148 (Pl. 11), where the aspect of the Guardian of the Fifth Pylon/Portal,[22] (Hentet-Arqiu), is assumed by Ammit, and she is illustrated as a "monstrous female demon with hippopotamus body and head, pendulous breasts, lion legs and crocodile snout, squatting, with open jaws and tongue extended, forepaws, holding huge knife,.."[23]
  25. ^ Bunson, Margaret (2012). "Judgment Halls of Osiris". Encyclopedia of Ancient Egypt (3rd ed.). Facts On File.
  26. ^ "Who Voices Ammit In Moon Knight's Final Episode?". ScreenRant. 2022-05-04. Retrieved 2022-05-10.