The Egyptian Book of the Dead
Egyptian Book of The Dead is one of the most well-known components of ancient Egyptian culture in both popular cultures and the present study. Few people have not experienced some version of the Book of the Dead’s afterlife mythology; it contains some of the most brilliant and memorable pictures from the ancient world. The Book of the Dead contains familiar images such as a scale weighing a departed person’s heart against a feather or the endless destruction of a soul by a god made up of animal parts.
A Guidebook to the Afterlife or just a book
With such compelling stories, it’s easy to see why Egyptian ideas about the afterlife have become so deeply embedded in our collective memory. Despite its enduring popularity, As evidenced by the cultural phenomenon of The Mummy in 1999, it is sometimes misconstrued or idealized for the sake of a thrilling plot. So, what is the Book of the Dead, what significance did it have for Egyptians in the old days, and how do Egyptologists use it today?
Chapters and Spells
The term given to a series of papyrus rolls on the same subject titled as the Book of the Dead is officially translated as “The Chapters/Book of Going Forth By Day.” Though the name “book of dead” conjures up images of a story or text created by an author, which was published in the same form again and over, these texts are written by several authors, with each edition having its own set of differences.
The departed used these writings as a guide on their journeys to the afterlife. Each was made for burial by scribes, with varying degrees of quality depending on the scribe’s ability, and some were produced with blank spots to be filled in later with the deceased’s name. The papyrus versions of the Bible, Spells and sections from the Book of the Dead were written on tomb panels, mummy wrappings, and even inside King Tut’s golden mask, in addition to the long-form papyrus copies.
The Book of the Dead was originally published in the New Kingdom, although it grew out of a lengthy history of magical funerary literature. The Pyramid Texts, the earliest of these writings, were only available to Egyptian rulers. Copies of the Coffin Texts – an altered version of the Pyramid Texts – were inscribed on coffins and included in the graves of non-royals, such as affluent Egyptians and elites, as religious beliefs on the hereafter changed. By the New Kingdom, everyone who could acquire a Book of the Dead, a convenient manual with the spells needed for the risky, complicated, and elaborate trials required to gain eternal life among the deities, was considered to have access to the afterlife.
Gods in Egyptian Book of The Dead
In the Book of the Dead, the gods Osiris, who is connected with resurrection, and Re, who is associated with the sun, are prominent. A total of 42 gods emerge to judge and test the recently deceased. Although the text’s substance and order vary, the story is normally divided into four sections: the dead enter the underworld and reclaims physical abilities, the deceased is resurrected and joins Re to start rising as the sun each day, the deceased journeys across the sky before being judged by a panel of gods in the netherworld, and at last, the deceased joins the divinities (supposing the soul hasn’t been destroyed).
The dead must say the appropriate names and spells at the right moment and react with the right answers to the deities’ queries in order to pass through these stages’ intricate hurdles. Before passing, the deceased must identify various elements of a sentient doorway in one intriguing and unusual situation. Fortunately, the Book of the Dead contains all of the necessary information.
These texts were obviously essential to ancient Egyptians, and they are currently one of the most precious assets for Egyptologists interested in learning more about Egyptian religion and the hereafter. The Book of the Dead not only describes the afterlife and the deities’ duties, but it also explains essential concepts like the ka and ba, elements of the soul that are thought to carry on after death.
The ka needs a physical form to revert to in order to remain, and the Book of the Dead explains the significance of mummification, a well-known Egyptian technique. Similarly, the Book of the Dead has spells for maintaining certain portions of the body, as well as a spell for the Opening of the Mouth rite, which is frequently shown in tomb décor. The Book of the Dead discloses key parts of ancient Egyptian belief, and like with many other themes in Egyptology, our theories change, grow, and change with each new translation of this work.
The History of Egyptian Book of the Dead
The Book of the Dead arose from ideas reflected in tomb murals and inscriptions dating back to Egypt’s Third Dynasty (c. 2670 – 2613 BCE). These spells, together with accompanying images, were written on papyrus and deposited in tombs and cemeteries with the dead by the 12th Dynasty (1991 – 1802 BCE).
It was to guide the dead person on how to face these difficulties of the underworld and afterlife by letting them to know the guise of many mythological figures and creatures, then provide them the essential clues for netherland.
However, they also helped to provide the soul with the foresight of what to expect at each level. Having a Book of the Dead is one’s grave would be akin to a modern-day student having access to all of the test answers they’ll always need in every level of school.
Prior to 1600 BCE, the many spells were separated into chapters, and the book was immensely popular by the period of the New Kingdom (c. 1570 – c. 1069 BCE). Spell-casting scribes would be recruited to create custom-made books for a person or a family. “Spells and clues in the Ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead were crafted to be spoken in the hereafter If any person is feeling sick and afraid of dying, they would go to a writer and have a book of afterlife spells written for them. The scribe would need to understand the person’s life story in order to guess what kind of voyage they may have after death, and then the necessary spells would be prepared individually for that person.
Osiris in The Egyptian Book of the Dead
The Book of the Dead was exclusively available to monarchs and the elite prior to the New Kingdom. The prominence of the Osiris Myth during the New Kingdom period led to the belief that the spells were essential because Osiris played such an important role in the soul’s eternal judgment. As more people wanted their own copy of the Book of the Dead, writers obliged, and the book became just another product on the market.
Similarly to how publishers today provide Print on Demand books or self-published works, scribes offered customers a variety of “packages” to pick from. They may have as few or as many spells as they could manage in their books. The number of sections to be included, the types of pictures to be included, and the grade of papyrus to be used were all up to the individual. Just the individual’s financial resources constrained him or her.
The Book of the Dead was created in this manner from the New Kingdom until the Ptolemaic Dynasty (323 – 30 BCE). It changed shape and size until around 650 BCE, when it was set at 190 consistent spells, but people may still add or remove what they pleased from the writing.
The manuscript of The Lamentations of Isis and Nephthys was linked to a Book of the Dead from the Ptolemaic Dynasty that related to a woman named Tentruty, but it was never incorporated as part of the Book of the Dead. Other copies of the book were printed with varying degrees of spells based on the buyer’s budget. The one spell that seemed to be present in every copy, however, was Spell 125.
The Book of the Dead’s Spell 125 is the most well-known of all the texts. People who are unfamiliar with the text but have even a passing knowledge of Egyptian mythology are aware of the spell without even realizing it. Even though the deity Osiris, with his scales, is never really portrayed in the text, Spell 125 depicts the god assessing the deceased’s heart in the Hall of Truth, one of the most well-known inscriptions from ancient Egypt. Having what to say and how to act in front of Osiris, Thoth, Anubis, and the Forty-Two Judges was regarded the most crucial aspect of passing the test of the measuring of the heart in order to gain heaven.
What Happens after dead?!
Anubis would lead a person to the Hall of Truth (also referred to as the Court of Two Truths) when they died, where they would make the Negative Statement (also known as The Declaration of Innocence). This was a catalog of 42 sins that no one could honestly claim to have committed. Osiris, Thoth, Anubis, and the Forty-Two Judges would meet after the Negative Statement was made, and if the confession was approved, the deceased’s heart was measured against the white feather of Ma’at, the feather of truth. If the heart was too heavy, it was tossed to the ground, where it was consumed by Ammut, the monster goddess, and the soul died.
Lord of Justice, hail to you, wonderful god! I have arrived at you, my lord, that you may offer me so that I may see your charm, for I know you and I know your name, and I know the identity of the forty-two gods who are with you in this Hall of Fairness, who live on those who cherish darkness and who gulp down their blood on that day of the judgment of characters in the existence of Wennefer [another name for Osiris], who live on those who cherish darkness and who gulp down their blood on that Behold the twofold son of the Songstresses;
Your title is Lord of Truth. I’ve come to you, I’ve brought you the truth, and I’ve fought untruth for you. I haven’t deceived men in any way. I have not depleted my acquaintances, I have not transgressed in the Place of Truth, I have not learned what is not…
The soul then says the Negative Confession and is examined by the deities and the Forty-Two Judges after this prologue. In order to be approved by the deities, certain extremely particular knowledge was required at this time. One needed to know not only the names of the many gods and what they were concerned for but also such specifics as the names of the room’s gates and the floor one had to walk through; one even needed to know the identities of one’s own feet. As the soul responded correctly to each deity and thing, they would hear the statement, “You know us; pass by us,” and could proceed. The soul must respond to the floor concerning the soul’s feet at some point:
“I will not allow you to walk on me,” declares the Hall of Justice’s floor.
“What’s to stop you? I am untainted.”
“Because I have no idea what the names of your feet are that you would use to step on me. Tell them to come to me.”
“My right foot is called ‘Secret Image of Ha,’ and my left foot is called ‘Flower of Hathor.”
“You know who we are; come in through us.”
The judgment of the deceased
The spell finishes with instructions on how to recite the spell and what the soul should wear when it confronts judgment.
In this Hall of Justice, the proper technique is to say this spell while dressed in white clothing and shoes, painted with black eye-paint, and anointed with myrrh. When you’ve placed this written method out on a clean floor of ochre coated with earth that hasn’t been trodden by swine or small cattle, you’ll be able to offer him meat and poultry, incense, bread, beer, and herbs.
Following that, the scribe who created the spell praises himself on a job well done and promises the reader that because of his role in supplying the spell, he, the scribe, and his offspring will prosper. He claims that when the time comes for him to make a decision, he will perform well “He will be ushered in with the rulers of Upper Egypt and Lower Egypt, and he will be in Osiris’ suite.
The typical person, even the king, had a considerably less assured experience. If you answered all of these questions right and had a heart as light as a feather of truth, and if you were kind to the grumpy Divine Ferryman who would row the souls through Lily Lake, you’d be in heaven. What one had left behind in life was the Egyptian Field of Reeds (also known as the Field of Offerings). The spirit was reconnected with lost loved ones and even loving pets once it arrived. The soul would live in an image of their childhood home, complete with the same courtyard, trees, and birds singing in the evening or morning, and this would be experienced in the presence of the deities for all eternity.