Tutankhamun Couch representing Ammit

This strange combination couch of Tutankhamun represents the dreadful Ammit, the monster who waits during the final judgment in the court of Osiris and who devours the unjust deceased.

Three ritual funerary couches were found in the antechamber of Tutankhamun. They are made of stuccoed gilded wood in the form of sacred animals whose eyes are inlaid with colored glass paste. These beds may have been intended to bear the deceased king during his journey to his eternal destination in the afterlife.

Head of a Funerary Couch in the form of Ammit
Head of a Funerary Couch of Tutankhamun in the form of Ammit

One bed has the head of Mehet-Weret, the celestial cow; the second, the head of a lioness, Mehit and the third, shown here, is a composite animal with a hippopotamus’s head wearing a wig, a leopard’s body, and a crocodile’s tail and crest.

Ammit was the Egyptian idea of the punishment of the soul. The name means “devourer” or “soul-eater.”Ammit was usually known as ‘The Devourer of the Dead’ or the ‘Eater of Hearts’. Ammit was believed to eat any souls found to have sinned. They would then be digested for eternity in acid. Or, Ammit who was believed to be the guardian of a lake of fire, would place the soul into the liquid fire for all eternity.

Head of a Funerary Couch of Tutankhamun in the form of Ammit
Head of a Funerary Couch of Tutankhamun in the form of Ammit
Photo: Sandro Vannini

Ammit appears as mix of the crocodile, lion, and hippo. Rather than being worshipped, Ammit was feared. She was not viewed as a god, but she was viewed as a good force because she destroyed evil. Although Ammit is seen as a devouring entity, she is neutral and strictly serves at the whim of the other deities to take souls that have sinned against the gods and send them into oblivion. She was known as the crocodile goddess also known as Estriedia.

Ammit was believed to be Anubis’s equal but She wanted to enter the real world and devour the souls of the living.

From the Tomb of Tutankhamun (KV62), Valley of the Kings, West Thebes. Now in the Egyptian Museum, Cairo. JE 62012