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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.
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".
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.
For every "I have not John Taylor points out the wording of Spells 30B and suggests a pragmatic approach to morality; by preventing the heart from contradicting him with any inconvenient truths, it seems that the deceased could enter the afterlife even if their life had not been entirely pure.
A Book of the Dead papyrus was produced to order by scribes. They were commissioned by people in preparation for their own funeral, or by the relatives of someone recently deceased.
They were expensive items; one source gives the price of a Book of the Dead scroll as one deben of silver,  perhaps half the annual pay of a labourer.
In one case, a Book of the Dead was written on second-hand papyrus. Most owners of the Book of the Dead were evidently part of the social elite; they were initially reserved for the royal family, but later papyri are found in the tombs of scribes, priests and officials.
Towards the beginning of the history of the Book of the Dead , there are roughly 10 copies belonging to men for every one for a woman.
The dimensions of a Book of the Dead could vary widely; the longest is 40m long while some are as short as 1m. The scribes working on Book of the Dead papyri took more care over their work than those working on more mundane texts; care was taken to frame the text within margins, and to avoid writing on the joints between sheets.
Books were often prefabricated in funerary workshops, with spaces being left for the name of the deceased to be written in later. The text of a New Kingdom Book of the Dead was typically written in cursive hieroglyphs , most often from left to right, but also sometimes from right to left.
The hieroglyphs were in columns, which were separated by black lines — a similar arrangement to that used when hieroglyphs were carved on tomb walls or monuments.
Illustrations were put in frames above, below, or between the columns of text. The largest illustrations took up a full page of papyrus.
From the 21st Dynasty onward, more copies of the Book of the Dead are found in hieratic script. The calligraphy is similar to that of other hieratic manuscripts of the New Kingdom; the text is written in horizontal lines across wide columns often the column size corresponds to the size of the papyrus sheets of which a scroll is made up.
Occasionally a hieratic Book of the Dead contains captions in hieroglyphic. The text of a Book of the Dead was written in both black and red ink, regardless of whether it was in hieroglyphic or hieratic script.
Most of the text was in black, with red ink used for the titles of spells, opening and closing sections of spells, the instructions to perform spells correctly in rituals, and also for the names of dangerous creatures such as the demon Apep.
The style and nature of the vignettes used to illustrate a Book of the Dead varies widely. Some contain lavish colour illustrations, even making use of gold leaf.
Others contain only line drawings, or one simple illustration at the opening. Book of the Dead papyri were often the work of several different scribes and artists whose work was literally pasted together.
The existence of the Book of the Dead was known as early as the Middle Ages, well before its contents could be understood. In Karl Richard Lepsius published a translation of a manuscript dated to the Ptolemaic era and coined the name " Book of The Dead" das Todtenbuch.
He also introduced the spell numbering system which is still in use, identifying different spells. The work of E.
Allen and Raymond O. Orientverlag has released another series of related monographs, Totenbuchtexte , focused on analysis, synoptic comparison, and textual criticism.
Research work on the Book of the Dead has always posed technical difficulties thanks to the need to copy very long hieroglyphic texts.
Initially, these were copied out by hand, with the assistance either of tracing paper or a camera lucida. In the midth century, hieroglyphic fonts became available and made lithographic reproduction of manuscripts more feasible.
In the present day, hieroglyphics can be rendered in desktop publishing software and this, combined with digital print technology, means that the costs of publishing a Book of the Dead may be considerably reduced.
However, a very large amount of the source material in museums around the world remains unpublished. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. For other uses, see Book of the Dead disambiguation.
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