Book of the Dead.

Sounds spooky. But all is not what it seems.


The following is what the Book of the Dead is not:

The Book of the Dead is not actually a book as such. It is more a series of texts relating to ancient Egyptians beliefs in death and the afterlife.

The book is not a general religious text like the bible. It has no commandments or moral messages.

It is not a book of spiritual guidance.

So what is the book about?

It is a funerary text also known as The Book of Coming or Going Forth By Day.

The text evolved from the pyramid and coffin texts until it was eventually recorded on papyrus.

These papyrus scrolls were placed in the coffin of the deceased at burial. They contained hymns and spells designed to aid in the journey of the deceased into the afterlife.


In the Papyrus of Ani which is one of the best preserved papyrus funerary texts, there are many spells written for the deceased, Ani, and his wife.

There are seven doorkeepers, or Arit, that require spells to pass them. This was necessary for Ani to pass through to Osiris in the afterworld.

Just when Ani thought he would be face to face with Osiris he needed more spells to pass through the Pylons of Osiris. Each pylon (twenty one in all) required a spell to pass it.

There were also spells read by the priests over the body of the deceased at the funeral.These spells were designed to:

* Enable the deceased to speak.

* To have magical powers.

* To not leave the soul, or ab, behind.

* To have protection over fire.

* To breathe divine air.

* To not let others speak ill of the deceased.

* To keep parts of the body in good condition.


The Book of the Dead was made in workshops in template form with the details of the deceased to be filled in as appropriate.

They were crafted by different scribes and pasted together later.

The cost of a book could equal half a years salary for someone lower down on the social pyramid, so planning was important to ensure the book would be included in the deceased burial ritual.

Without an editor to clean it up, it was not unusual for a scribe to misspell or unintentionally omit words, as well as place images in the wrong place.

Hymns Praises and other texts.

The Papyrus of Ani, pays tribute to the gods, Osiris, Ra and Hathor through hymns and praise.

The Hymn to Osiris is one that assuring deceased that he will live on in the afterlife.

Other texts describe:

* Ani passes the weighing of the heart.

* The gods favour him claiming he speaks truth and will be saved from the jaws of Ammut.

* Horus ushers Ani into the presence of Osiris.

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