Ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead

This exhibition of the Book of the Dead has been at the British Museum since Nov & finally got the chance to take the boys on Tuesday ... talk about cutting it close, it finishes this weekend!

The time slot for our tickets was 12:50 so we decided to have our lunch after going around the exhibition, thinking it would be an hour at the most. We'd covered just over half of it when I glanced at my watch, wondering why I was feeling so hungry -- it was 2:30!!! We didn't linger quite as long after that but sort of sped through, only pausing to look at the things that really caught our attention.

According to the exhibition 'blurb', "the 'Book' was not a single text but a compilation of spells designed to guide the deceased through the dangers of the underworld, ultimately ensuring eternal life. These beautifully illustrated spells on papyrus and linen were used for over 1,000 years, and the oldest examples are over 3,500 years old." Each 'book' was unique to the person it was written for, with their images & names inscribed alongside the spells.

We weren't allowed to take pictures of the exhibits, so I've cheated & scanned some images from the book I bought afterwards. What struck me was how fresh the images & hieroglyphs were, the colours were still vibrant &, when I was lucky enough to get really close, I could make out the brush strokes. But it was difficult to get really close, thanks to the number of people there who had no qualms pushing us out of the way but refused to budge when we attempted the same!! Obviously we have to brush up on our technique *lol*

This is from the papyrus of Ani; Spell 89, 'for letting a ba rejoin its corpse'.

This shows protective forces around the mummy in its burial chamber. Anubis is standing beside the mummy, with Isis & Nephthys kneeling at the foot and head, & Horus' sons nearby.

Spell 17 contains the words "To me belongs yesterday, I know tomorrow", two phrases which refer to the gods Osiris & Ra. This image, again from the papyrus of Ani, shows two lions, back-to-back. One represents yesterday, the other tomorrow & between them is the rising sun.

From the papyrus of Hunefer. His heart is weighed by Anubis, while Thoth records the result. The 'Devourer' waits to swallow the heart if the deceased is declared undeserving of the afterlife. The monster is described as: "The Devourer of the Damned: her front is a crocodile, her rear a hippopotamus, her middle a lion."

The ones who are declared deserving are presented to Osiris, Lord of Eternity, shown here attended by his sisters, Isis & Nephthys. The four sons of Horus stand facing him on a large lotus flower.

The first time we went to the Museum, I couldn't get close enough to the Rosetta Stone to take a picture but this time I planted my rather ample self as close as possible & got a couple of shots!

Couldn't resist this shot of a rather large Lewis chessman sat, looking a little bewildered, in the gift shop.