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The Egyptian Book of the Dead

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Author Topic: The Egyptian Book of the Dead  (Read 8696 times)
Josie Linde
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« on: December 21, 2008, 09:56:59 pm »

2 Chabas, Voyage, p. 46; Wiedemann, Aegyptische Geschichte, p. 191. In the Brit. Mus. papyrus No. 10,060 (Harris 500), Herutataf is mentioned together with I-em-hetep as a well known author, and the writer of the dirge says, "I have heard the words of I-em-hetep and of Herutataf, whose many and varied writings are said and sung; but now where are their places?" The hieratic text is published with a hieroglyphic transcript by Maspero in Journal Asiatique, Sér. VIIième, t. xv., p. 404 ff., and Études Égyptiennes, t. i., p. 173; for English translations, see Trans. Soc. Bibl. Arch., vol. iii., p. 386, and Records of the Past, 1st ed., vol. iv., p. 117.

3 According to the Westcar papyrus, Herutataf informed his father Khufu of the existence of a man 110 years old who lived in the town of Tettet-Seneferu: he was able to join to its body again a head that had been cut off, and possessed influence over the lion, and was acquainted with the mysteries of Thoth. By Khufu's command Herutataf brought the sage to him by boat, and, on his arrival, the king ordered the head to be struck off from a prisoner that Tetteta might fasten it on again. Having excused himself from performing this act upon a man, a goose was brought and its head was cut off and laid on one side of the room and the body was placed on the other. The sage spake certain words of power whereupon the goose stood up and began to waddle, and the head also began to move towards it; when the head had joined itself again to the body the bird stood up and cackled. For the complete hieratic text, transcript and translation, see Erman, Die Märchen des Papyrus Westcar, Berlin, 1890, p. it, plate 6.]

{p. xvi}

The Book of the Dead in the IInd dynasty.

Passing from the region of native Egyptian tradition, we touch firm ground with the evidence derived from the monuments of the IInd dynasty. A bas-relief preserved at Aix in Provence mentions Âasen and Ankef,[1] two of the priests of Sent or Senta, the fifth king of the IInd dynasty, about B.C. 4000; and a stele at Oxford[2] and another in the Egyptian Museum at Gizeh[3] record the name of a third priest, Shera or Sheri, a "royal relative" On the stele at Oxford we have represented the deceased and his wife seated, one on each side of an altar,[4] which is covered with funeral offerings of pious relatives; above, in perpendicular lines of hieroglyphics in relief, are the names of the objects offered,[5] and below is an inscription which reads,[6] "thousands of loaves of bread, thousands of vases of ale, thousands of linen garments, thousands of changes of wearing apparel, and thousands of oxen." Now from this monument it is evident that already in the IInd dynasty a priesthood existed in Egypt which numbered among its members relatives of the royal family, and that a religious system which prescribed as a duty the providing of meat and drink offerings for the dead was also in active operation. The offering of specific objects goes far to prove the existence of a ritual or service wherein their signification would be indicated; the coincidence of these words and the prayer for "thousands of loaves of bread, thousands of vases of ale," etc., with the promise, "Anpu-khent-Amenta shall give thee thy thousands of loaves of bread, thy thousands of vases of ale, thy thousands of vessels

[1. Wiedemann, Aegyptische Geschichte, p. 170. In a mastaba at Sakkara we have a stele of Sheri, a superintendent of the priests of the ka, whereon the cartouches of Sent and Per-ab-sen both occur. See Mariette and Maspero, Les Mastaba de l'ancien Empire, Paris, 1882, p. 92.

2. See Lepsius, Auswahl, Bl. 9.

3. See Maspero, Guide du Visiteur au Musée de Boulaq, 1883, pp. 31, 32, and 213 (No. 1027).

4 A discussion on the method of depicting this altar on Egyptian monuments by Borchardt may be found in Aeg. Zeitschrift, Bd. XXXI., p. i (Die Darstellung innen verzierter Schalen auf aeg. Denkmälern).

6 Among others, (1) ###, (2) ###, (3) ###, (4) ###; the word incense is written twice, ###. Some of these appear in the lists of offerings made for Unas (l. 147) and for Teta (11. 125, 131, 133; see Recueil de Travaux, 1884, plate 2).

6 ###.

7 The sculptor had no room for the ### belonging to ###.]

{p. xvii}

of unguents, thy thousands of changes of apparel, thy thousands of oxen, and thy thousands of bullocks," enables us to recognise that ritual in the text inscribed upon the pyramid of Teta in the Vth dynasty, from which the above promise is taken.[1] Thus the traditional evidence of the text on the coffin of Menthu-hetep and the scene on the monument of Shera support one another, and together they prove beyond a doubt that a form of the Book of the Dead was in use at least in the period of the earliest dynasties, and that sepulchral ceremonies connected therewith were duly performed.[2]

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