Papyrus from the Book of the Dead of Nakht

From Thebes, Egypt
Late 18th Dynasty, 1350-1300 BC

Nakht and his wife worshipping Osiris

Nakht was a royal scribe and overseer of the army ('general') at the end of the Eighteenth Dynasty (about 1550-1295 BC). His Book of the Dead is a beautifully illustrated example.

Chapter 15 of the Book of the Dead is a collection of hymns loosely associated with the worship of the sun-god at the setting of the sun. The mixture is so diverse that it can also include the worship of Osiris, god of the dead and keeper of the Underworld. This sheet shows the wonderful scene of Nakht and Tjuiu, his wife, adoring Osiris and Maat, who represents the established order of things.

The scene also includes a single-storey house and a garden. This picture is often taken as visual evidence for how ancient Egyptians lived, but an Egyptian representation is rarely what it seems; pictorial elements nearly always have hidden meanings, particularly in a papyrus intended for guidance in the Afterlife. The house is probably there as an expression of the deceased's wish to return to earth. In fact, Spell 132 of the Book of the Dead expressly refers to this. The pool is also symbolic of rebirth and resurrection, with other scenes showing the ba spirits of the deceased drinking from pools, or the tree-goddess pouring water for the dead in the area of the pool.

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More information

Bibliography

R.O. Faulkner, The Ancient Egyptian Book of t, (revised ed. C. A. R. Andrews) (London, The British Museum Press, 1985)

E.R. Russmann, Eternal Egypt: masterworks of (University of California Press, 2001)

Dimensions

Height: 36.000 cm

Museum number

EA 10471/21

YCA65675

Location

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