Book of the Dead

N. 1791 - Museo Egizio di Torino (Turin, Italy)

Alternate Titles:

Libro dei Morti, Buch der Toten

Facsimile edition
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Alternate Titles

Libro dei Morti
Buch der Toten

Extent / Format

1 scroll / 184.3 x 28.0 - 29.5 cm

700-525 BC

Short description

The Book of the Dead is a hieroglyphic papyrus scroll, which is based on a collection of sayings from the 7th-5th centuries before Christ. The sayings contained therein were supposed to serve and accompany the deceased on their journey into the realm of the dead and to protect them in the afterlife.

Facsimile editions available


Book of the Dead

A hieroglyphic papyrus was composed in ancient Egypt that bore the title Book of Coming Forth by Day. This document is a collection of magic spells, incantations, and liturgical instructions, and was repeatedly re-edited and reworked. It describes death as a pilgrimage of the soul of the deceased into another world. The text of the work is recorded in red hieroglyphics. The upper half of the text features a frieze, which shows various figures outlined in black.

The Origin Story of the Book of the Dead

The text of the Book of the Dead draws on religious, ritual sayings, which already existed for 2,500 years before Christ. Such sayings were engraved in the walls of the pharaohs’ tombs. Ca. 2,000 before Christ, the sayings accompanying death were recorded on the mummy wrappings. Later in the Book of the Dead, a total of 190 sayings of this type were recorded. They served to accompany the deceased into the realm of the dead and to protect them in the other world. The ancient Egyptian conception of death and the afterlife was completely different than the typical Christian beliefs and conceptions of paradise and the garden of Eden. The reproduction of the Egyptian scroll allows the reader to experience the magic and mysticism of bygone times.

A Historical Document

The Book of the Dead is one of the most important documents of Egyptian mythology. Many of the sayings contained therein were supposed to help the dead to reach a state of divine being. They were supposed to help one be able to lead a life that was not completely foreign to them. One imagined that with the right magic words, one would be able to have a dialogue with the great Egyptian deities. The aim was to attain immortality in the afterlife and to be able to transform into any possible creature. The mystical beliefs of the Egyptians in the realm of the dead still fascinates every historically interested reader to this day.

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