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The Egyptian Book of the Dead

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Author Topic: The Egyptian Book of the Dead  (Read 9141 times)
Josie Linde
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« on: December 21, 2008, 09:58:37 pm »

3. They were copied in 1882, and published by M. Maspero in Recueil de Travaux, t. v., pp. 1-59.

4. The broken mummy of this king, together with fragments of its bandages, was found lying on the floor.

5. See Vyse, Pyramids of Gizeh, vol. iii., p. 5

6. It had been partially opened by Mariette in May, 1880, but the clearance of sand was not effected until early in 1881.

7. The full text is given by Maspero in Recueil de Travaux, t. v., pp. 157-58, Paris, 1884; t. vii., pp. 145-76, Paris, 1886; and t. viii., pp. 87-120, Paris, 1886.

8. It was opened early in January, 1880, by Mariette, who seeing that the sarcophagus chamber was inscribed, abandoned his theory that pyramids never contained inscriptions, or that if they did they were not royal tombs. The hieroglyphic texts were published by Maspero in Recueil de Travaux, t. ix., pp. 177-91, Paris, 1887; t. X, pp. 1-29, Paris, 1388; and t. xi., pp. 1-31, Paris, 1889. The alabaster vase in the British Museum, NQ 4493, came from this pyramid.

9. This pyramid is a little larger than the others of the period, and is built in steps of small stones; it is commonly called by the Arabs Haram el Mastabat, because it is near the building usually called Mastabat el-Far'ûn. See Vyse, Pyramids, vol. iii., p. 52. The hieroglyphic texts are published by Maspero in Recueil de Travaux, t. xii., pp. 53-95, and pp. 136-95, Paris, 1892; and t. xiv., pp. 125-52, Paris, 1892. There is little doubt that this pyramid was broken into more than once in Christian times, and that the early collectors of Egyptian antiquities obtained the beautiful alabaster vases inscribed with the cartouches and titles of Pepi II. from those who had access to the sarcophagus chamber. Among such objects in the British Museum collection, Nos. 4492, 22,559, 22,758 and 22,817 are fine examples.]

{p. xxiv}

Summary of the monumental evidence.

Thus we have before the close of the VIth dynasty five copies of a series of texts which formed the Book of the Dead of that period, and an extract from a well-known passage of that work on the wooden coffin of Mycerinus; we have also seen from a number of mastabas and stelæ that the funeral ceremonies connected with the Book of the Dead were performed certainly in the IInd, and with almost equal certainty in the Ist dynasty. It is easy to show that certain sections of the Book of the Dead of this period were copied and used in the following dynasties down to a period about A.D. 200.

The Book of the Dead a collection of separate works.

The fact that not only in the pyramids of Unas and Teta, but also in those of Pepi I. and his immediate successors, we find selected passages, suggests that the Book of the Dead was, even in those early times, so extensive that even a king was fain to make from it a selection only of the passages which suited his individual taste or were considered sufficient to secure his welfare in the next world. In the pyramids of Teta, Pepi I., Mer-en-Ra and Pepi II. are found many texts which are identical with those employed by their predecessors, and an examination of the inscription of Pepi II. will show that about three-fourths of the whole may be found in the monuments of his ancestors. What principle guided each king in the selection of his texts, or whether the additions in each represent religious developments, it is impossible to say; but, as the Egyptian religion cannot have remained stationary in every particular, it is probable that some texts reflect the changes in the opinions of the priests upon matters of doctrine.[1] The "Pyramid Texts" prove that each section of the religious books of the Egyptians was originally a separate and independent composition, that it was written with a definite object, and that it might be arranged in any order in a series of similar texts. What preceded or what followed it was never taken into

[1. A development has been observed in the plan of ornamenting the interiors of the pyramids of the Vth and VIth dynasties. In that of Unas about one-quarter of the sarcophagus chamber is covered with architectural decorations, and the hieroglyphics are large, well spaced, and enclosed in broad lines. But as we advance in the VIth dynasty, the space set apart for decorative purposes becomes less, the hieroglyphics are smaller, the lines are crowded, and the inscriptions overflow into the chambers and corridors, which in the Vth dynasty were left blank. See Maspero in Revue des Religions, t. xi., p. 124.]

{p. xxv}

consideration by the scribe, although it seems, at times, as if traditions had assigned a sequence to certain texts.

Historical reference.

That events of contemporary history were sometimes reflected in the Book of the Dead of the early dynasties is proved by the following. We learn from the inscription upon the tomb of Heru-khuf at Aswân,[l] that this governor of Elephantine was ordered to bring for king Pepi II.[2] a pigmy,[3] from the interior of Africa, to dance before the king and amuse him; and he was promised that, if he succeeded in bringing the pigmy alive and in good health, his majesty would confer upon him a higher rank and dignity than that which king Assa conferred upon his minister Ba-ur-Tettet, who performed this much appreciated service for his master.[4] Now Assa was the eighth king of the Vth dynasty, and Pepi II. was the fifth king of the VIth dynasty, and between the reigns of these kings there was, according to M. Maspero, an interval of at least sixty-four, but more probably eighty, years. But in the text in the pyramid of Pepi I., which must have been drafted at some period between the reigns of these kings, we have the passage, "Hail thou who [at thy will] makest to pass over to the Field of Aaru the soul that is right and true, or dost make shipwreck of it. Ra-meri (i.e., Pepi I.) is right and true in respect of heaven and in respect of earth, Pepi is right and true in respect of the island of the earth whither he swimmeth and where he arriveth. He who is between the thighs of Nut (i.e., Pepi) is the pigmy who danceth [like] the god, and who pleaseth the heart

[1. The full text from this tomb and a discussion on its contents are given by Schiaparelli, Una tomba egiziana inedita della VIa dinastia con inscrizioni storiche e geografiche, in Atti della R. Accademia dei Lincei, anno CCLXXXIX., Ser. 4a, Classe di Scienze Morali, etc., t. x., Rome, 1893, pp. 22-53. This text has been treated by Erman (Z.D.M.G., Bd. XLVI., 1892, p. 574 ff.), who first pointed out the reference to the pigmy in the pyramid texts, and by Maspero in Revue Critique, Paris, 1892, p. 366.

2 See Erman in Aeg. Zeitschrift, Bd. XXXI., p. 65 ff.

3 On the pigmy see Stanley, Darkest Africa, vol. i., p. 198; vol. ii., p. 40f; Schweinfurth, Im Herzen von Africa, Bd. II., Kap. 16, p. 131 ff. That the pigmies paid tribute to the Egyptians is certain from the passage "The pigmies came to him from the lands of the south having things of service for his palace"; see Dümichen, Geschichte des alten Aegyptens, Berlin, 1887, p. 7.

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