The second fragment (right), circa 650 BCE, is from a later period, and is far larger with unusually fine hieractic script inscribed on linen.
The Book begins with the "Hymn to Osiris," the Great God of the Dead. The story of Osiris is one of the earliest Egyptian myths. Powerful pharaohs and humble peasants alike all hoped to join Osiris in the afterlife.
Egyptians commissioned a copy of The Book before they died to serve as a guide. The text was carved on the exterior of the sarcophagus, or placed inside the mummy case to be read on the journey. The instructions contained a collection of spells, charms, and magic formulas. Knowledge of the appropriate spells was critical to pass successfully through various trials.
There were passwords, clues and routes to direct the traveler. The Book also served as identification for the gods, utilized to gain their assistance and protection. The dead had to reach the underworld if they were to achieve a happy, prosperous Afterlife.
Judgment was performed in The Hall of Maat where the heart, or conscience, of the deceased was placed on the scales, then compared to the weight of the feather of truth and justice. In some interpretations, Thoth, the moon god, recorded the judgment; in others, he weighed the hearts in The Hall of The Two Truths.