An Egyptian Alabaster Funerary Plummet Weight, New Kingdom, ca 1550 - 1069 BC


This rare plummet-weight is from an ancient Egyptian funerary scale. Well carved from creamy Egyptian alabaster (calcite) in the form of a pyriform ovoid vessel, the smooth body has a restricted neck and flaring rim and was suspended from a string.  Such weights were used as a vertical reference line for adjusting the scale when conducting the important Weighing of the Heart ceremony.

Background: The Egyptians viewed the heart as the seat of intellect and emotion; as such, it played a central role in the rebirth of an individual in the afterlife. The heart of the individual was weighed against the feather representing the goddess of truth, Ma’at, in a judgment process overseen by Osiris, the lord of the underworld. The judgment was a frequent subject for funerary art, especially on papyri and coffins. Central to the scene was a large balance, with the heart in one pan and either a feather or a tiny figure of Ma'at, in the other pan. Anubis, the guardian of the scales, weighs the heart where the left hand touches the plummet of the balance, and the other holds the cord attached to one pan.

"Said he that is in the tomb :
'Pay attention to the decision of truth
and the plummet of the balance, according to its stance !'"

Papyrus of Ani, Plate 3 - ca. 1250 BCE - XIXth Dynasty

Condition: The weight is beautifully shaped with almost perfect symmetry, there is loss to the suspension loop, otherwise it is intact and in excellent condition overall. Photographed on crystal base that is available upon request.

Dimensions: Height: 1 1/4 inches (31.2mm), Diameter: 2/3 inch (17.3 mm)

Provenance:  Private collection of Egyptologist Geoffrey Metz, Sweden acquired from Tetragon, London in 1998. Metz collection number: M1314 marked in black pigment.

Category: $1000 - $5000, Stone

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