The book of the dead: facsimiles of the papyri of Hunefer, Anhai, Kerāsher and Netchemet ; with supplementary text from the papyrus of Nu with transcripts, etc. The Origins and Early Development of the Book of the Dead. Peter F. Dorman. .. Book of the Dead spells were frequently written on linen shrouds or bandages . The book of the dead: facsimiles of the papyri of Hunefer, Anhai, Kerāsher and Netchemet ; with supplementary text from the papyrus of Nu with transcripts, etc.
Some are intended to give the deceased mystical knowledge in the afterlife, or perhaps to identify them with the gods: Still others protect the deceased from various hostile forces or guide him through the underworld past various obstacles.
Famously, two spells also deal with the judgement of the deceased in the Weighing of the Heart ritual. Such spells as 26—30, and sometimes spells 6 and , relate to the heart and were inscribed on scarabs.
The texts and images of the Book of the Dead were magical as well as religious. Magic was as legitimate an activity as praying to the gods, even when the magic was aimed at controlling the gods themselves.
The act of speaking a ritual formula was an act of creation;  there is a sense in which action and speech were one and the same thing. Hieroglyphic script was held to have been invented by the god Thoth , and the hieroglyphs themselves were powerful.
Written words conveyed the full force of a spell. The spells of the Book of the Dead made use of several magical techniques which can also be seen in other areas of Egyptian life.
A number of spells are for magical amulets , which would protect the deceased from harm. In addition to being represented on a Book of the Dead papyrus, these spells appeared on amulets wound into the wrappings of a mummy.
Other items in direct contact with the body in the tomb, such as headrests, were also considered to have amuletic value. Almost every Book of the Dead was unique, containing a different mixture of spells drawn from the corpus of texts available.
For most of the history of the Book of the Dead there was no defined order or structure. The spells in the Book of the Dead depict Egyptian beliefs about the nature of death and the afterlife.
The Book of the Dead is a vital source of information about Egyptian beliefs in this area. One aspect of death was the disintegration of the various kheperu , or modes of existence.
Mummification served to preserve and transform the physical body into sah , an idealised form with divine aspects;  the Book of the Dead contained spells aimed at preserving the body of the deceased, which may have been recited during the process of mummification.
The ka , or life-force, remained in the tomb with the dead body, and required sustenance from offerings of food, water and incense.
In case priests or relatives failed to provide these offerings, Spell ensured the ka was satisfied. It was the ba , depicted as a human-headed bird, which could "go forth by day" from the tomb into the world; spells 61 and 89 acted to preserve it.
An akh was a blessed spirit with magical powers who would dwell among the gods. The nature of the afterlife which the dead person enjoyed is difficult to define, because of the differing traditions within Ancient Egyptian religion.
In the Book of the Dead , the dead were taken into the presence of the god Osiris , who was confined to the subterranean Duat. There are also spells to enable the ba or akh of the dead to join Ra as he travelled the sky in his sun-barque, and help him fight off Apep.
There are fields, crops, oxen, people and waterways. The deceased person is shown encountering the Great Ennead , a group of gods, as well as his or her own parents.
While the depiction of the Field of Reeds is pleasant and plentiful, it is also clear that manual labour is required.
For this reason burials included a number of statuettes named shabti , or later ushebti. These statuettes were inscribed with a spell, also included in the Book of the Dead , requiring them to undertake any manual labour that might be the owner's duty in the afterlife.
The path to the afterlife as laid out in the Book of the Dead was a difficult one. The deceased was required to pass a series of gates, caverns and mounds guarded by supernatural creatures.
Their names—for instance, "He who lives on snakes" or "He who dances in blood"—are equally grotesque. These creatures had to be pacified by reciting the appropriate spells included in the Book of the Dead ; once pacified they posed no further threat, and could even extend their protection to the dead person.
If all the obstacles of the Duat could be negotiated, the deceased would be judged in the "Weighing of the Heart" ritual, depicted in Spell The deceased was led by the god Anubis into the presence of Osiris.
There, the dead person swore that he had not committed any sin from a list of 42 sins ,  reciting a text known as the "Negative Confession".
Then the dead person's heart was weighed on a pair of scales, against the goddess Maat , who embodied truth and justice.
Maat was often represented by an ostrich feather, the hieroglyphic sign for her name. If the scales balanced, this meant the deceased had led a good life.
Anubis would take them to Osiris and they would find their place in the afterlife, becoming maa-kheru , meaning "vindicated" or "true of voice".
This scene is remarkable not only for its vividness but as one of the few parts of the Book of the Dead with any explicit moral content.
The judgment of the dead and the Negative Confession were a representation of the conventional moral code which governed Egyptian society.
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