Papyrus from the Book of the Dead of Nakht

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

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 117 of the Book of the Dead is a spell for taking the road to Rosetjau, the burial place of Osiris. The vignettes include scenes showing Anubis taking Nakht towards a false door, the offering place in the tomb through which the spirit of the deceased entered and left the next world. Nakht is also shown receiving a libation (liquid offering) from the tree goddess, and being subjected to the Opening of the Mouth ritual by the hawk-headed god, Horus.

The figures of Nakht appear squat when compared to 'classic' Egyptian art. The slightly strange proportions, seen also in the tombs of Horemheb and Ramesses I in the Valley of the Kings, are typical of representation at the end of the Eighteenth and early Nineteenth Dynasties. It is thought that this is the result of a readjustment of the artistic canon of proportions after the Amarna Period. The 'transparency' of the figures is also interesting: we can see the legs of Nakht through his white over-robe, and his feet are visible through the pool of water in the centre.

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More information


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

G. Robins, Proportion and style in Ancien (London, Thames and Hudson, 1994)

R.B. Parkinson and S. Quirke, Papyrus, (Egyptian Bookshelf) (London, The British Museum Press, 1995)

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

S. Quirke and A.J. Spencer, The British Museum book of anc (London, The British Museum Press, 1992)


Length: 71.300 cm (frame)
Width: 39.200 cm (frame)

Museum number

EA 10471/8



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