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Ancient Egypt /
1. Introduction
2. Gods
3. Concepts
4. Cult
5. Cult centres
6. Necropolises
7. Structures

Detailed articleAncient Egypt

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Book of the Dead

Book of the Dead: The Weighing of the human heart against the feather of Maat. Anubis checks the accuracy of the balance, while Ammit awaits the opportunity to gobble down sinful hearts.
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Book of the Dead: The Weighing of the human heart against the feather of Maat. Anubis checks the accuracy of the balance, while Ammut awaits the opportunity to gobble down sinful hearts.

Detailed articleBook of the Dead
Detailed articlePyramid Texts
Detailed articleCoffin Texts

Name used for a number of mortuary texts in use in ancient Egypt. The texts were placed in tombs to protect and aid the deceased in the hereafter.
According to Egyptian beliefs, the dead would have to fight against demons in the hereafter, and pass tests presented by 42 judges in the hall of Osiris. The texts were there to give good advice on how to pass these obstacles. But there were also several passages in the texts, about how much a good life lived on earth would be of help in the hereafter.
The earliest examples of these texts date back to around 2400 BCE — these texts are called Pyramid Texts. Later, from around 2100 BCE, private individuals started to have the texts written on their coffins. Texts belonging to this group are called Coffin Texts. From around 1500 BCE the texts were written in colour with elaborate illustrations, on papyrus rolls that were between 15 and 30 metre long. The rolls were put into the mummy case.
Even if there are no examples of any single version of the texts that contain all 200 known chapters, there were recensions, which were used by the scribes when they copied the text. The oldest recension was the Heliopolitan, from around 2400 BCE. The next one was the Theban, from around 1500 BCE. The third and last was the Saite Recension, from around 600 BCE. This version was in use almost until year 0.
Example of text from the Book of the dead. This is an excerpt from the chapter called "Making The Transformation Into A Divine Hawk":
Travel thou on thy way safely, cry out the gods of the Tuat to me. O you who make your names pre-eminent, who are chiefs in your shrines, and who are guardians of the House of Osiris, grant, I pray you, that I may come to you. I have bound up and I have gathered together your Powers. I have directed the Powers of the ways, the wardens of the horizon, and of the Hemat House of heaven. I have stablished their fortresses for Osiris. I have prepared the ways for him. I have performed the things which [he] hath commanded. I come forth to Tetu. I see Osiris. I speak to him concerning the matter of his Great Son, whom he loveth, and concerning [the smiting of] the heart of Set. I look upon the lord who was helpless. How shall I make them to know the plans of the gods, and that which Horus did without the knowledge of his father Osiris?
Translation of E.A. Wallis Budge (1895)

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By Tore Kjeilen