The Egyptian Book of the Dead

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The Book Per-t em hru, or [The Chapters of] Coming forth by (or, into) the Day, commonly called the "Book of the Dead."

The spells and other texts which were written by Thoth for the benefit of the dead, and are directly connected with him, were called, according to documents written under the XIth and XVIIIth dynasties, "Chapters of the Coming Forth by (or, into) the Day," . One rubric in the Papyrus of Nu (Brit. Mus. No. 10477) states that the text of the work called "PER-T EM HRU," i.e., "Coming Forth (or, into) the Day," was discovered by a high official in the foundations of a shrine of the god Hennu during the reign of Semti, or Hesepti, a king of the Ist dynasty. Another rubric in the same papyrus says that the text was cut upon the alabaster plinth of a statue of Menkaurā (Mycerinus), a king of the IVth dynasty, and that the letters were inlaid with lapis lazuli. The plinth was found by Prince Herutataf, , a son of King Khufu (Cheops), who carried it off to his king and exhibited it as a "most wonderful" thing. This composition was greatly reverenced, for it "would make a man victorious upon earth and in the Other World; it would ensure him a safe and free passage through the Tuat (Under World); it would allow him to go in and to go out, and to take at any time any form he pleased; it would make his soul to flourish, and would prevent him from dying the [second] death." For the deceased to receive the full benefit of this text it had to be recited by a man "who was ceremonially pure, and who had not eaten fish or meat, and had not consorted with women." On coffins of the XIth dynasty and on papyri of the XVIIIth dynasty we find two versions of the PER-T EM HRU, one long and one short. As the title of the shorter version states that it is the "Chapters of the PER-T EM HRU in a single chapter," it is clear that this work, even under the IVth dynasty, contained many "Chapters," and that a much abbreviated form of the work was also current at the same period. The rubric that attributes the "finding" of the Chapter to Herutataf associates page 5it with Khemenu, i.e., Hermopolis, and indicates that Thoth, the god of this city, was its author.

Scenes and texts from the Sixth Section of the Book of him that is in the Other World.

Scenes and texts from the Sixth Section of the Book of him that is in the Other World.

From the sarcophaugus of King Nekht-Heru-hebt, B.C. 378.

[Southern Egyptian Gallery, Bay 28, No. 923.]

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images from the Egyptian Book of the Dead