In one of the oldest civilizations we know, that of ancient Egypt, thoughts about the heart reflected a certain duality. On the one hand, the heart was associated with concepts like virtue, or soul. A central passage in the Book of the Dead of the ancient Egyptians is the description and illustration of the weighing of the soul (Fig. 1). The heart of the diseased was put on a pair of scales and balanced against the hieroglyphic symbol of virtue, the feather maat. If the ibis god of scribes, Thot, could register a favourable verdict, the dead man or woman was presented to the god of the dead, Osiris, and was allowed entrance into the world of the dead. If not, the heart was devoured by a horrifying beast, which event was described as the Death of the Soul, and meant total elimination of the individual [Rossiter, 1979J. On the other hand, the Egyptians probably were aware of the physiological function of the heart as a blood·pump and recognized a variety of heart conditior)s [Ghalioungui, 1973J. People suffering from them would wear a small amulet representing a heart [Howes, 1976J.

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Stichting Klinische Genetica Regio Rotterdam, Nederlandse Hart Stichting (Netherlands Heart Foundation)
H. Galjaard (Hans) , F.G. Grosveld (Frank)
Erasmus University Rotterdam
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

de Crom, R. (1997, May 7). High Density Lipoprotein-Binding Proteins in Liver. Retrieved from