Egyptian Book of the Dead

Earlier this year, the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities announced the discovery of a 52-foot-long papyrus scroll of the Book of the Dead discovered in the necropolis of Saqqara. This is the first complete ancient papyrus found in Egypt in 100 years. It was discovered in 2022 inside the coffin of man named Ahmose who died around 300 B.C.E.. His tomb was found just south of the Step Pyramid of Djoser (ca. 2611 B.C.E.), a landmark which remained a popular site for burials of the Egyptian elite for millennia.

After the scroll was stabilized by technicians in the laboratory of the Egyptian Museum, it was carefully unrolled. The condition of the scroll is exceptional. Details of text and illustration are surprisingly clear and undamaged. The unrolled scroll is now on display in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.

The Book of the Dead is a set of religious funerary texts that were created to guide the deceased into the underworld. It includes incantations of the gods, songs, prayers and a roadmap of what the souls of the dead will encounter during their journey — the judgment of the gods, punishments, rewards, etc.

The text is written in hieratic, a cursive form of hieroglyphics that was the predominant writing system in daily life. The text is primarily written in black ink with a few highlights in red. It consists of 113 chapters from the Book of the Dead written in 150 columns of various lengths and widths. The first 15 inches of the scroll are blank space; the book then opens with a large scene depicting Ahmose worshipping Osiris.

This entry was posted in Africa, Art, Books, History, Middle East, Museums and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Egyptian Book of the Dead

  1. What an amazing find! Thanks for sharing, I had not read about it

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