Book of the Dead | Funerary Texts, Spells & Rituals

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What is the Book of the Dead?

The Ancient Egyptians thought that a collection of recorded spells known as the Book of the Dead would aid them in the afterlife. It is more like a collection of separate chapters than a big book.

Where were the spells written?

On papyrus sheets on the tomb walls were written the spells from the Book of the Dead. Hieroglyphics were used by scribes to record the spells. They used vibrant images to illustrate the Book of Dead stories as well.

What was the number of chapters?

The Book of the Dead has at least 190 distinct chapters. The earlier chapters and spells lacked organization. They were merely a collection of separate spells. The chapters later become more structured. The dead individual entering the tomb and then the underworld were the subjects of the first 16 chapters. The following paragraph described how the gods could assist the individual in the afterlife. Chapters that followed described the character’s journeys through the underworld. The last paragraph explained how the person could develop strength in the afterlife.

When was the Book of the Dead written?

Around 1600 BC, the first chapters and spells from the Book of the Dead were recorded on papyrus. Some of the spells, meanwhile, were probably far older than this.

Did every grave include a Book of the Dead?

Each Book of the Dead was unique. Wealthy people had the means to commission a scribe to create a personalized Book of the Dead for them, complete with the spells they believed they would require in the hereafter. Less fortunate people might purchase pre-written copies with their names filled in by the scribe. In any case, owning a Book of the Dead was expensive, and not everyone could afford one.

The Egyptians wanted this in their tomb, but why?

The Egyptian religion placed a strong emphasis on preparing for the afterlife. They invested a great deal of time and money into decorating their graves and ensuring sure they had everything they would require in the hereafter. They believed that the spells found in the Book of the Dead would give them power to walk through the underworld, defend them from demons, and even secure them a seat in heaven.

Chapters from the Book of the Dead examples

Chapter 1 – Used during the funeral procession on the day of burial.

Chapter 5 – A formula that eliminated the need for the person to perform labor in the afterlife.

Chapter 30 – A spell that stopped a man’s heart from being stolen from him in the afterlife was described.

Chapter 33 – A spell that assisted in the battle against snakes.

Chapter 63 – A spell that made it easier for the character to access water in the underworld.

Chapter 88 – A spell that would transform the subject into a crocodile is described.

Chapter 125 – Possibly the most well-known chapter, chapter 125 tells how the deity Osiris judges a person’s soul. A scale was used to compare the individual’s heart to the truth-representing feather of Maat.

Chapter 185 – Osiris-related hymn.

Informative Statistics Regarding the Book of the Dead

The Book of the Dead came in some forms that were over 100 feet long.

The Book of the Dead is also known as “The Spells of Coming Forth by Day” in Egyptian.

Typically, the titles were written in red and the text was written in black ink.

Thrilling names like “He who lives on snakes” and “He who dances in blood” are used to characterize creatures protecting the underworld in the tale.

The Papyrus of Ani, which is kept in the British Museum in London, is one of the most well-known instances of the Book of the Dead.

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