The egyptian book of the dead
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The egyptian book of the dead

The Egyptian Book of the Dead

What we call the Egyptian Book of the Dead was known to the Egyptians as Reu nu pert em hru translated that means “The Chapters of coming forth by day.” It is a collection of chapters made up of magic spells and formulas. It was illustrated and written on papyrus. These papyri were commissioned by the deceased before their death. Like most products these text came in different qualities. You could commission the finest quality papyrus money could buy or you could purchase one "off the rack" and have a scribe fill in the blanks with your name.

The egyptian book of the dead

  • This collection of funerary chapters began to appear in Egyptian tombs around 1600 BC. It can be thought of as the deceased's guidebook to a happy afterlife. The text was intended to be read by the deceased during their journey into the Underworld. It enabled the deceased to overcome obstacles and not lose their way. It did this by teaching passwords, giving clues, and revealing routes that would allow the deceased to answer questions and navigate around hazards. It would grant the help and protection of the gods while proclaiming the deceased's identity with the gods. The Papyrus of Ani is one of the finest and most complete examples of this type of Egyptian funerary text to survive. The Papyrus of Ani now resides in The British Museum, London.

The egyptian book of the dead
The Funeral Procession of the Royal Scribe Ani.From the Papyrus of Ani. (c. 1400 B.C.)The British Museum, London

  • The Egyptians believed that the human soul used the first night after death to travel into the afterlife. However, the body, which the Egyptians believed was an essential element to the afterlife had to be mummified to preserve it for eternity. The mummification process took 72 days to perform properly. This was the time to put finishing touches on the tomb and to pack all the deceased's worldly possessions, which surely would be needed in the afterlife.

The funeral procession of the royal scribe ani
The Funeral procession of the Royal Scribe Ani. Papyrus of Ani. (c. 1400 B.C.)The British Museum, London

  • In this picture we see servants or hired hands carrying Ani's home furnishings,

    Servants are dragging a chest on which Anubis is sitting, inside the chest is

    more of Ani's worldly possessions or perhaps his canopic jars. All of these objects

    will be placed in the tomb for his use in the afterlife. In front of them are eight male

    mourners dressed in white. Ani's mummy rides on a funerary boat which is being

    drawn by oxen. Very hard to see in this picture are the goddesses Isis and

    Nephthys who are usually shown in this scene protecting the dead. Ani's wife

    mourns at his side. The man wearing a leopard skin and turned back towards Ani's

    mummy is a priest, he is burning incense.

The egyptian book of the dead

  • There are men carrying more of Ani's belongings. The group of women in clothed in blue are a party of paid, professional mourners who wail and pat dirt on their heads. This was an Egyptian show of mourning. The cow and calf are food offerings that will be used for the funeral feast.

  • Ani's mummy stands before the entrance of his tomb, in the protective embrace of Anubis. His wife mourns at his feet. Behind her are offerings and three priests. One reads from a papyrus, while the other two are about to perform an important ceremony called the "opening of the mouth and eyes." This ceremony was thought to restore the mummy's ability to see, breathe, eat and drink

The egyptian book of the dead

Hunefer's mummy stands before the entrance of his tomb, in the

protective embrace of Anubis. The two women are probably family

members, they are patting dirt on their heads, this was a sign of

mourning. Behind them are three priests. The priest wearing the

leopard skin (a sign of priesthood) burns incense and presents

offerings of food and drink, while the other two are about to perform

the important ceremony of “opening of the mouth.” This ceremony

was thought to restore the mummy's ability to see, breathe, eat and


The hall of maat
The Hall of Maat the

  • The Hall of Maat is where the judgment of the dead was performed. This was done by weighing one's heart (conscience) against the feather of Maat (truth and justice). Here we see Anubis leading Hunefer to the scales of Maat. Anubis weights Hunefer's heart against the feather to see if he is worthy of joining the gods in the Fields of Peace. Ammut is also present, as a demon waiting to devour Hunefer's heart should he prove unworthy. Thoth stands to the right of the scales recording the results. Having passed this test Hunefer is now lead by Horus to meet the King of the dead, Osiris. The throne of Osiris rests on a pool of water from which a lotus flower is growing, upon the lotus stand the four sons of Horus. Behind the throne of Osiris stands Isis and her sister Nephthys.

Sekhet hetepet the fields of peace
"Sekhet-Hetepet” - The Fields of Peace. the

  • Ani pays his respects to the gods who dwell in Sekhet-Hetepet (Fields of Peace) and asks the gods to help him to enter into Sekhet-Hetepet so that he may "become a khu, drink, plow, reap, fight, make love, never be in a state of servitude and always be in a position of authority therein".