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But in many manuscripts the vignettes constitute a row of pictures, with texts placed beneath them. By the 26th Dynasty the sequence of chapters was standardised into a series of over 'chapters', most with their own vignette.
The texts are divided into individual Spells or chapters, around two hundred in total, though no one papyrus contains them all. Specific chapters could be selected out of the total repertoire.
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-made text template. The spells contained within the Book of the Dead can be divided into 5 main categories.
They provide practical help and magical assistance in the provisioning and protection of the deceased in the afterlife.
Transformational Spells — designed to be used by the deceased to able to transform into various objects, animals and gods in order to become identified with them.
Spells such as Spell 76, 77, 78, 79, 80, 81a, 81b, 82, 83, 84, 85, 86, 87 and 88, where the deceased can be transformed into a falcon of gold, a phoenix, a heron or a swallow amongst others.
Protection Spells — these spells are to be used by the deceased in preventing death and injury etc in the afterlife. Spells such as Spell 22, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 29a, 30a, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 38a, 38b, 43, 44, 45, 46, 53, 54, 55, 56, 57, 58, 59, 61, 62, 63a, 63b, , , , , , and Here the deceased is protected from snakes, crocodiles, being decapitated, not dying again, not eating faeces or drinking urine, breathing in the realm of the dead, stopping the corpse from putrefying and causing the soul to live in the realm of the dead.
These spells are aimed at providing help in overcoming the possibility of dying a second time on the journey to the afterlife. Guides and Directions — these spells are to be used by the deceased to help navigate the underworld and overcome its many obstacles.
Spells such as Spell 18, 98, 99, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , and These spells allow the deceased to overcome and opponents in any divine tribunal, for fetching a ferryboat, making a soul worthy and permitting it to go aboard the Bark of Re, sitting among the Great Gods, passage through the Field of Offerings, taking the road to Rosetjau, knowing the Keepers of the Gates, entering the portals of the House of Osiris, and for knowing the Fourteen Mounds.
It illustrates the many difficulties required to overcome before entering the afterlife and how the Book of the Dead could provide both magical and practical help.
Prayers and Hymns — these spells are to be used by the deceased to give praise to the gods and spoken when entering the presence of various gods.
Spells such as Spell 1, 15, 17, 59, , , , , , , , , , , , , and Journey of the Dead. However, to reach this tribunal the deceased had to make a journey, one that was fraught with pitfalls and dangers.
The underworld of Osiris was not immediately or easily accessible and the Book of the Dead provides a written guide for the dead and a means of bringing them to their goal without mishap.
Yet the dangers could not simply be avoided by knowing the maps and routes: Spells, which could be learned by the dead, could help in completing a certain stage of the journey.
The Book of the Dead provides Spells for overcoming obstacles such as crocodiles, snakes, beetles and other dangers so that the dead could continue to the realm of the blessed dead and not die in the afterlife.
After negotiating these obstacles, the deceased had to pass through a number of gates or portals the numbers vary from 3 to 7 to approach the gods.
The deceased associates himself or impersonates various gods such as Re, Atum, Osiris, Thoth and Anubis in order to pass these portals and continue to the Great Hall of Osiris and the weighing of the heart.
The heart, the seat of man, is weighed against the feather of Maat. Here Anubis is in charge of the weighing whilst Thoth records the verdict.
The dead has then to recite a declaration of innocence before the assembly of gods, headed by Osiris. Forty-two judges interrogate the deceased, each asking him to describe and name the regions travelled and the actions performed during his journey.
One final gate bars the deceased from entering the abode of the blessed dead. The deceased had to supply the secret names of the constituent parts, only then could he enter the presence of Osiris, ushered in by Horus, and partake of the funerary meals.
One of the central concepts in the Book of the Dead is the idea of a general judgement to which every deceased person is subject.
Spell 30b deals with the weighing of the heart of the dead man on the scales of balance against the feather of righteousness. Spells 30a and 30b implore the heart not to bear witness against the deceased.
Spell is also connected with the judgement of the dead; here the deceased declares to the tribunal of forty-two gods that he has not committed a series of crimes.
The rubric accompanying this spell gives instructions for when the spell should be performed, what the deceased should wear and what offerings should be presented.
In return the deceased will flourish and be given offerings from the altar of the Great God and shall be granted access to the gateway of the west to take his place in the suite of Osiris.
In part, the work is an exposition of what a proper led life consists of; the text is unique in ancient literature in that it shows an elaborate and ritualistic judgement of the dead by the divinities.
It allowed the deceased to become at one with the Imperishable Stars, to join with Re in his solar barque, to be restored in the afterlife like Osiris, to take their place in the Field of Rushes and to be active in and around the tomb.
These ancient texts were commissioned by the deceased before their death, and were the deceased's guide Book to a happy afterlife. These texts do not record the lives and deeds of the men or women buried in the tombs who owned them.
Instead, these texts provide spells to ensure that a soul could pass into the Egyptian paradise through the perils of the Tuat.
The Book of the Dead is a compilation of many Egyptian texts of which the Pyramid Texts are the oldest. These texts stated that his connection to Osiris would allow for the fulfillment of his needs in the afterlife.
During this period, only the Pharaoh could have the texts carved in his tomb that would ensure him a good place in the afterlife.
The Coffin Texts were first compiled during the Middle Kingdom and written from the 18th to 21st Dynasties. Some of these texts were papyrus rolls that could be fifty to one-hundred feet long.
Priests carved or painted portions of these texts on coffins and furniture. Each spell of the Coffin Texts received its own title but there was no set arrangement established by the priests.
These texts differ from the Pyramid Texts because they were often used by many members of the uppermost level of society.
During this time, families were often buried in the same tombs but they showed social status by the size of different burials.
An akh was a blessed spirit with magical powers who would dwell among the gods. The nature of the afterlife which the dead person enjoyed is difficult to define, because of the differing traditions within Ancient Egyptian religion.
In the Book of the Dead , the dead were taken into the presence of the god Osiris , who was confined to the subterranean Duat.
There are also spells to enable the ba or akh of the dead to join Ra as he travelled the sky in his sun-barque, and help him fight off Apep.
There are fields, crops, oxen, people and waterways. The deceased person is shown encountering the Great Ennead , a group of gods, as well as his or her own parents.
While the depiction of the Field of Reeds is pleasant and plentiful, it is also clear that manual labour is required.
For this reason burials included a number of statuettes named shabti , or later ushebti. These statuettes were inscribed with a spell, also included in the Book of the Dead , requiring them to undertake any manual labour that might be the owner's duty in the afterlife.
The path to the afterlife as laid out in the Book of the Dead was a difficult one. The deceased was required to pass a series of gates, caverns and mounds guarded by supernatural creatures.
Their names—for instance, "He who lives on snakes" or "He who dances in blood"—are equally grotesque.
These creatures had to be pacified by reciting the appropriate spells included in the Book of the Dead ; once pacified they posed no further threat, and could even extend their protection to the dead person.
If all the obstacles of the Duat could be negotiated, the deceased would be judged in the "Weighing of the Heart" ritual, depicted in Spell The deceased was led by the god Anubis into the presence of Osiris.
There, the dead person swore that he had not committed any sin from a list of 42 sins ,  reciting a text known as the "Negative Confession".
Then the dead person's heart was weighed on a pair of scales, against the goddess Maat , who embodied truth and justice.
Maat was often represented by an ostrich feather, the hieroglyphic sign for her name. If the scales balanced, this meant the deceased had led a good life.
Anubis would take them to Osiris and they would find their place in the afterlife, becoming maa-kheru , meaning "vindicated" or "true of voice".
This scene is remarkable not only for its vividness but as one of the few parts of the Book of the Dead with any explicit moral content.
The judgment of the dead and the Negative Confession were a representation of the conventional moral code which governed Egyptian society.
For every "I have not John Taylor points out the wording of Spells 30B and suggests a pragmatic approach to morality; by preventing the heart from contradicting him with any inconvenient truths, it seems that the deceased could enter the afterlife even if their life had not been entirely pure.
A Book of the Dead papyrus was produced to order by scribes. They were commissioned by people in preparation for their own funeral, or by the relatives of someone recently deceased.
They were expensive items; one source gives the price of a Book of the Dead scroll as one deben of silver,  perhaps half the annual pay of a labourer.
In one case, a Book of the Dead was written on second-hand papyrus. Most owners of the Book of the Dead were evidently part of the social elite; they were initially reserved for the royal family, but later papyri are found in the tombs of scribes, priests and officials.
Most owners were men, and generally the vignettes included the owner's wife as well. Towards the beginning of the history of the Book of the Dead , there are roughly 10 copies belonging to men for every one for a woman.
The dimensions of a Book of the Dead could vary widely; the longest is 40m long while some are as short as 1m.
The scribes working on Book of the Dead papyri took more care over their work than those working on more mundane texts; care was taken to frame the text within margins, and to avoid writing on the joints between sheets.
The words peret em heru , or 'coming forth by day' sometimes appear on the reverse of the outer margin, perhaps acting as a label. Books were often prefabricated in funerary workshops, with spaces being left for the name of the deceased to be written in later.
The text of a New Kingdom Book of the Dead was typically written in cursive hieroglyphs , most often from left to right, but also sometimes from right to left.
The hieroglyphs were in columns, which were separated by black lines — a similar arrangement to that used when hieroglyphs were carved on tomb walls or monuments.
Illustrations were put in frames above, below, or between the columns of text. The largest illustrations took up a full page of papyrus. From the 21st Dynasty onward, more copies of the Book of the Dead are found in hieratic script.
The calligraphy is similar to that of other hieratic manuscripts of the New Kingdom; the text is written in horizontal lines across wide columns often the column size corresponds to the size of the papyrus sheets of which a scroll is made up.
Occasionally a hieratic Book of the Dead contains captions in hieroglyphic. The text of a Book of the Dead was written in both black and red ink, regardless of whether it was in hieroglyphic or hieratic script.
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