Ammit “Devourer of Souls Goddesses” was an ancient Egyptian goddess 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. In ancient Egyptian religion, Ammit played an important role during the funerary ritual, the Judgment of the Dead.

Iconography Ammit is denoted as a female entity, commonly depicted with the head of a crocodile, the forelegs and upper body of a lion or leopard, and the hind legs and lower body of a hippopotamus. The combination of three deadly animals of the nile: crocodile, lion, and hippo, suggests that no one can escape annihilation, even in the afterlife. She is part lioness, but her leonine features may present in the form of a mane, which is usually associated with male lions. In the Papyrus of Ani, Ammit is adorned with a tri-colored nemes,  which were worn by pharaohs as a symbol of kingship. Versions of the Book of the Dead from the New Kingdom started to include Ammit. During the eighteenth dynasty, the crocodile-lion-hippopotamus hybrid was the conventional depiction of Ammit. She appeared in scenes showing the Judgment of the Dead, in tombs and funerary papyri. In this scene, Ammit is shown with other Egyptian gods in Duat, waiting to learn if she can consume the heart of the deceased. A stylistic shift occurred, during the Third Intermediate Period.

Role in ancient Egyptian religion Unlike other gods featured in ancient Egyptian religion, Ammit was not worshipped. Instead, Ammit was feared and believed to be a demon rather than a deity, due to her role as the ‘devourer of the dead’. During the New Kingdom, deities and demons were differentiated by having a cult or center of worship. Demons in ancient Egyptian religion had supernatural powers and roles but were ranked below the gods and did not have a place of worship. In the case of Ammit, she was a guardian demon. A guardian demon was tied to a specific place, such as Duat. Their appearance was based on a hybrid of an animal or a human and was denoted so the dead could recognize them. Guardian demons that appeared as a hybrid of animals were an amalgamation of traits meant to be feared and to differentiate them from deities associated with humanity.