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W867The term ‘Book of the Dead’ is used by Egyptologists to refer to a group of funerary texts which the ancient Egyptians called ‘The Book of Going Forth by Day’. They are usually said to date from the Second Intermediate Period (c.1650BC) to c.AD50. Several of the texts, usually called ‘chapters’ or ‘spells’, in the collection are derived from the earlier Pyramid Texts and Coffin Texts. There is no one complete book but rather different individuals used different compilations. Texts may occur on papyri which were placed in the coffin or put in Ptah-Sokar-Osiris figures, they could be put on tomb walls, written on mummy bandages, or upon amulets.

While the Book of the Dead is usually considered funerary, some have pointed out that at least some of the spells may have been used in life.


Egypt Centre items are related to the Book of the Dead in 3 different ways:

1. They either have texts from the Book of the Dead written on them. Here are some examples:

W867 Late Dynastic-Ptolemaic papyrus (shows vignettes of chapter 1 and includes the Hymn to the Rising Sun of chapter 15)

W868 Late Dynastic-Ptolemaic chapter 149 on linen (shows vignettes of chapter 149, the keepers of the mounds to the underworld)

W869 New Kingdom painted shroud (showing chapters 81, 84 and 126)

W920 Ptolemaic mask with Book of the Dead 151a

EC419 Coffin fragment with Book of the Dead 146

W1312 Shabti with a version of the ‘shabti spell’, chapter 6 of the Book of the Dead thereon.

W233 a heart scarab with an inscription from chapter 30B

They illustrate parts of the Book of the Dead. Here are some examples:

W1982 Hathor Emerging from the Mountain

W1982 Judgement scene (the ‘weighing of the heart scene’ is not specifically mentioned in the Book of the Dead, though the vignette sometimes decorates Book of the Dead papyri and relate to chapter 125 and 30)

  W1050 Third Intermediate Period coffin fragment (showing the Lake of Fire from chapter 126 of the Book of the Dead)



They are amulets relating to the Book of the Dead.