The Book Of The Dead
The book of the dead dates from at least 1500Bc, it was written by the Egyptians consisting of a number of magic spells intended to assist a dead person's journey through the Duat, or underworld, and into the afterlife and written by many priests over a period of about 1000 years. The texts are divided into individual chapters, but no one papyrus contains them all. Specific chapters could be selected out of the total repertoire.
The Egyptians were obsessed with death, they believed once they died they would go to an afterlife but the journey would not be easy and they would need spells, magic and charms to get them through it. The book of the dead contains just that 200 or so spells to help you on the journey to the afterlife. Many of the spells were written on the walls of tombs just in case the dead forgot them
There were spells for all possible events, being eaten by a crocodile, opening the seven gates between death and the afterlife. They listed the names of the gods who guarded the gates, which they felt would give them power over the gods and make them open the gates.
There were spells to ensure the dead could eat and drink on the journey (that’s why Mummy’s mouths were left open so they could still eat!) and food was left in tombs for them to take with them.
But the book was not just written and read, it was copied (if you were rich enough) with the spells each person though they needed, studied and kept close until they did die. If the prospective owner of a Book was wealthy and his death not untimely, he might commission a scribe to write the text for him, based upon his personal choice of spells. Other less wealthy clients had to make do with a ready written text, a template, in which spaces had been left for the insertion of the name and titles of the buyer
Although every book of the dead was unique they were mostly organised like this –
Section 1- Descending into the underworld and slowly the dead regain their senses
Section 2 - Explanation of the gods, their roles and where to find them, the dead live and rise again as the sun rises the following day
Section 3- The dead travel across the sky and then at night go to the underworld to meet the God Osris.
Sections 4- Once vindicated the dead rise and join the gods.
Hope you enjoyed a quick tour of the book of the dead the real thing can be found at the British Muesum.