Book of the Dead, The

Book of the Dead, The Popular title given to a collection of ancient Egyptian funerary texts composed for the benefit of the dead. The collection consists of incantations, hymns, prayers, and magic words and formulas that were found cut or painted on the walls of pyramids and tombs and on rolls of papyrus. The texts do not form a connected work, nor do they belong to any one period. They are miscellaneous in character and tell nothing of the lives or works of the dead with whom they are buried. The Egyptians possessed many funerary works, but none of them bore a name that could be translated The Book of the Dead. This title was given in the early 19th century by tomb robbers, who discovered buried with the mummies rolls of papyrus, which they called Kitâb al-Mayyit (book of the dead man) or Kitâb al-Mayyitun (book of the dead). The robbers, however, knew nothing of the contents of the rolls; they were merely saying that what they found in the coffin was a “dead man’s book.”

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SOURCE:

Encyclopedia of World Mythology and Legend, Third Edition – Written by Anthony S. Mercatante & James R. Dow– Copyright © 2009 by Anthony S. Mercatante

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