Mafdet's head on the bed where the mummy is placed
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Mafdet (also Mefdet, Maftet) was a goddess in the ancient Egyptian religion. She was often depicted wearing a skin of a cat, and protected against the bite of snakes and scorpions. She is part of the ancient Egyptian deities during the First Dynasty of Egypt. She was prominent during the reign of pharaoh Den whose image appears on stone vessel fragments from his tomb and is mentioned in a dedicatory entry in the Palermo Stone. Mafdet was the deification of legal justice, or possibly of capital punishment. She was associated with the protection of the king's chambers and other sacred places, and with protection against venomous animals, which were seen as transgressors against Maat. In the Pyramid Texts of the Old Kingdom of Egypt, she is mentioned as protecting the sun god Ra from venomous snakes.
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In art, Mafdet was alternately shown as a feline or mongoose, a woman with such a head, or such an animal with the head of a woman.
She also was depicted in her animal form running up the side of an executioner's staff of office. It was said that Mafdet ripped out the hearts of wrong-doers, delivering them to the pharaoh's feet like cats that present humans with rodents or birds they have killed or maimed.
- Bunson, M. R. (2002). "Mafdet (Mefdet, Maftet)". Encyclopedia of Ancient Egypt (Revised ed.). New York: Facts on File, Inc. p. 223. ISBN 0816045631.
- Wilkinson, T. A. H. (1999). Early Dynastic Egypt. Routledge. pp. 249–251. ISBN 0-203-20421-2.
- Wilkinson, R. H. (2003). The Complete Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Egypt. Thames & Hudson. p. 196. ISBN 0-500-05120-8.