Ancient Egyptian Book of The Dead
What is the Book of The Dead?
The Egyptian Book of the Dead was known to the Egyptians as Reu nu pert em hru meaning The Chapters of Coming Forth by Day
It's a set of spells, incantations, prayers and mummification techniques designed to help the dead person resurrect into a glorious afterlife in "The Hall of the Two Truths." It was illustrated and written on papyrus.
The Book of The Dead can be thought of as the deceaseds' guidebook to a happy after life as the text was intended to be read by the dead during their journey into the Underworld.
The Book of The Dead showed how to overcome obstacles, revealed routes, gave clues to shortcuts, taught passwords and prayers to navigate safely and kept the dead from otherwise losing their way.
It would also guarantee the help and protection of the gods while proclaiming the deceaseds' identity with those gods.
These papyri were commissioned by the wealthy well before their deaths. Depending on their personal riches and prestige, the ruling class would naturally call for the finest quality papyrus that money could buy. Less affluent Egyptians would purchase a generic book of The Dead "off the rack" and have a scribe fill in the blanks with their name.
Ancient Egyptian Beliefs
The Egyptians believed that the human soul used the first night after death to travel into the afterlife. The body, however, had to be preserved as it was an essential element to the afterlife and needed for all eternity. This mummification process took 72 days to perform properly and the time was used to put the finishing touches on the tomb. All of the deceased's worldly possessions were packed away and the Book of The Dead carefully laid in the tomb.
The British Museum holds the finest and most complete example of these papyri - the Papyrus of Ani
This text is unique in our ancient literature. It shows an elaborate and ritualistic judgement of the dead by the divinities. It's an exposition of what makes up a properly led life and demonstrates the primary ethical responsibility of the Ancient Egyptians.
To live one's life according to Maat, or truth.