Book of the Dead
Book of the Dead The ancient Egyptians were aware of the possibility of the existence
of an afterlife and for that sole purpose, they invested a great deal of the time
of imagination into creating the mysterious book of the dead. The book is simply
a collection of ancient Egyptian funerary texts made up of spells and magical
formulas located within tombs to protect and help the deceased during their journey
in the afterlife. They were in common use for 1500 years from Egypt old kingdom
(2575-2150 BC) till the Greco-roman period (332 BC-642 AD). The original title
Book of the Dead
was translated to “Book of Coming Forth by Day” or “Book of Emerging Forth Into
the Light” by the famous German Egyptologist Karl Richard Lepsius who published
the first collection of the texts in 1842. The book of the dead was never fully codified
and no copies of the book are exactly the same as each copy of the book is unique
because it was created for each individual who passed on his own life.
History of the Book of the Dead
The book of the dead goes all way back to the old kingdom where it was developed
from the tradition of funerary manuscripts called the pyramid texts around 2400 BCE.
These texts were written on the walls of the burial chamber of the pharaohs
within their pyramids in an unusual hieroglyphic style. Their goal was to act as
a guidebook to provide all the necessary information and instruct the deceased
on how to survive in the afterlife and ascend with the gods. In Egypt middle kingdom
Book of the Dead
( 2030-1650 BC), the Coffin Texts which is like an update of the Pyramids
Texts started to spread as they had a new version of the language, new spells,
and illustrations for the first time. They were written mostly on coffins but sometimes on tomb walls or on papyri.
By the 17th dynasty, the book was highly popular as it no longer included members from
the royal family but also courtiers and officials. By the new kingdom (1570-1069 BCE)
the book already became a crucial part of their culture as it could found in
the tomb of anyone who can afford them as a person who is on the verge of
death can hire a scribe and create his own personal book. During the Ptolemaic
Dynasty (323-30 BCE) the book continued to used and each book had many different copies, forms, and sizes.
Contains the Book of the Dead
The book acted as a ritual formula for performing magical and religious practices.
The book holds about 192 spell that serves many purposes, one of the most famous
spells in the book was the famous spell 125 “The Weighing of the Heart” which
the judgment of the soul happens in the afterlife in the Hall of Truth in front of
the King of The underworld “Osiris” where the heart of the deceased weighed
against the feather of Maat to decided whether he would enter the fields of Reed
or vanish from existence. Because of Osiris Popularity and his important role in
eternal judgment, more & more people desired the book to win the graces of the
ruler of the underworld. The book contains many magical techniques for creating
magical amulets. It also contained many definitions and illustrations about the
mummification process, the Ka (life-force), Heka (magic), transformation, the afterlife, and the judicial process.