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The Egyptian Book of the Dead

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Author Topic: The Egyptian Book of the Dead  (Read 9096 times)
Josie Linde
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« on: December 21, 2008, 09:57:25 pm »

The Book of the Dead in the IVth dynasty.

With the IVth dynasty we have an increased number of monuments, chiefly sepulchral, which give details as to the Egyptian sacerdotal system and the funeral ceremonies which the priests performed.[3] The inscriptions upon the earlier

[1. ###. Teta, II. 388, 389. (Recueil, ed. Maspero, t. v., p. 58.)

2 The arguments brought forward here in proof of the great antiquity of a religious system in Egypt are supplemented in a remarkable manner by the inscriptions found in the mastaba of Seker-kha-baiu at Sakkara. Here we have a man who, like Shera, was a "royal relative" and a priest, but who, unlike him, exercised some of the highest functions of the Egyptian priesthood in virtue of his title xerp hem. (On the ###
  • see Max Müller, Recueil de Travaux, t. ix., p. 166; Brugsch, Aegyptologie, p. 218; and Maspero, Un Manuel de Hiérarchie Égyptienne, p. 9.)

Among the offerings named in the tomb are the substances ### and ### which are also mentioned on the stele of Shera of the IInd dynasty, and in the texts of the VIth dynasty. But the tomb of Seker-kha-baiu is different from any other known to us, both as regards the form and cutting of the hieroglyphics, which are in relief, and the way in which they are disposed and grouped. The style of the whole monument is rude and very primitive, and it cannot be attributed to any dynasty later than the second, or even to the second itself; it must, therefore, have been built during the first dynasty, or in the words of MM. Mariette and Maspero, "L'impression générale que l'on reçoit au premier aspect du tombeau No. 5, est celle d'une extrême antiquité. Rien en effet de ce que nous sommes habitués à voir dans les autres tombeaux ne se retrouve ici . . . Le monument . . . . est certainement le plus ancien de ceux que nous connaissons dans la plaine de Saqqarah, et il n'y a pas de raison pour qu'il ne soit pas de la Ire Dynastie." Les Mastaba de l'ancien Empire; Paris, 1882, p. 73. Because there is no incontrovertible proof that this tomb belongs to the Ist dynasty, the texts on the stele of Shera, a monument of a later dynasty, have been adduced as the oldest evidences of the antiquity of a fixed religious system and literature in Egypt.

3. Many of the monuments commonly attributed to this dynasty should more correctly be described as being the work of the IInd dynasty; see Maspero, Geschichte der Morgenlänsdischen Völker im Alterthum (trans. Pietschmann), Leipzig, 1877, p. 56; Wiedemann, Aegyptische Geschichte p. 170.

* Ptah-shepses bore this title; see Mariette and Maspero, Les Mastaba, p. 113.]

{p. xviii}

monuments prove that many of the priestly officials were still relatives of the royal family, and the tombs of feudal lords, scribes, and others, record a number of their official titles, together with the names of several of their religious festivals. The subsequent increase in the number of the monuments during this period may be due to the natural development of the religion of the time, but it is very probable that the greater security of life and property which had been assured by the vigorous wars of Seneferu,[1] the first king of this dynasty, about B.C. 3766, encouraged men to incur greater expense, and to build larger and better abodes for the dead, and to celebrate the full ritual at the prescribed festivals. In this dynasty the royal dead were honoured with sepulchral monuments of a greater size and magnificence than had ever before been contemplated, and the chapels attached to the pyramids were served by courses of priests whose sole duties consisted in celebrating the services. The fashion of building a pyramid instead of the rectangular flat-roofed mastaba for a royal tomb was revived by Seneferu,[2] who called his pyramid Kha; and his example was followed by his immediate successors, Khufu (Cheops), Khaf-Ra (Chephren), Men-kau-Ra (Mycerinus), and others.

Revision of certain chapters in the IVth dynasty.

In the reign of Mycerinus some important work seems to have been under taken in connection with certain sections of the text of the Book of the Dead, for the rubrics of Chapters XXXB. and CXLVIII.[3] state that these compositions were found inscribed upon "a block of iron(?) of the south in letters of real lapis-lazuli under the feet of the majesty of the god in the time of the King it of the North and South Men-kau-Ra, by the royal son Herutataf, triumphant." That a new impulse should be given to religious observances, and that the revision of existing religious texts should take place in the reign of Mycerinus, was only to be expected if Greek tradition may be believed, for both Herodotus and Diodorus Siculus represent him as a just king, and one who was anxious to efface from the minds of the people the memory of the alleged cruelty of his

[1. He conquered the peoples in the Sinaitic peninsula, and according to a text of a later date he built a wall to keep out the Aamu from Egypt. In the story of Saneha a "pool of Seneferu" is mentioned, which shows that his name was well known on the frontiers of Egypt. See Golénischeff, Aeg. Zeitschrift, p. 110; Maspero, Mélanges d'Archéologie, t. iii., Paris, 1876, p. 71, 1. 2; Lepsius, Denkmäler, ii., 2a.

2 The building of the pyramid of Mêdûm has usually been attributed to Seneferu, but the excavations made there in 1882 did nothing to clear up the uncertainty which exists on this point; for recent excavations see Petrie, Medum, London, 1892, 40.

3 For the text see Naville, Todtenbuch, Bd. II., Bl. 99; Bd. I., Bl. 167.]

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