Book of the Dead - The first fragment (left) contains two lines from The Egyptian Book of the Dead, circa 800 BCE. Executed in hieratic, or priestly, script, an ancient style of writing composed from abridged forms of hieroglyphics, the fragment was produced in the Twenty-Second Dynasty, 945-712 BCE, during the reign of Shoshenq III.
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.
Cartonnage Fragment - The term 'cartonnage' refers to funerary items placed inside the mummy case. This fragment, circa 600 BCE, shows 3 lines of hieractic script on one side; two lines of script on the reverse side. Funerary items made of layers of linen or papyrus soaked in gesso plaster were decorated with gilt or paint.
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