Heart Scarab of Hatnefer, serpentine and gold, Egypt, New Kingdom, ca. 1492–1473 B.C. Found in Egypt, Upper Egypt; Thebes, Sheikh Abd el-Qurna, Tomb of Hatnefer and Ramose (TT 71), Mummy of Hatnefer, MMA 1935–1936

Hatnefer’s heart scarab is an exceptionally fine example of this type of funerary equipment and is comparable to those made for contemporary royalty. It was certainly a royal gift. Every feature of the scarab beetle is carefully rendered. The exquisite chain is made of gold wire, plaited in a quadruple-link pattern. The scarab’s base is engraved with a version of Book of the Dead (chapter 30A), in which the deceased addresses her own heart, exhorting it not to bear witness against Hatnefer’s spirit (ka) in the final judgment in the afterlife. Hatnofer’s name was inserted over an erased text, indicating that the scarab was not made for her.

In 1936, the Museum’s Egyptian expedition discovered a rock-cut tomb on a hillside just below the offering chapel of Senenmut, one of Hatshepsut’s best known officials. The tomb had been prepared for the burial of Senenmut’s mother, Hatnefer, who had died in her 70s, early in the joint reign of Hatshepsut and Thutmose III. By this time, Senenmut had become a great official, and could provide a comparatively rich burial for his mother, including this gilded mummy mask and an exquisite heart scarab . She was also buried with several pieces of fine personal jewelry