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Valley of the Kings
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Book of the Dead

The Book of the Dead is the name given to a series of papyrus sheets that contain spells and incantations to help the dead person into the afterlife. There are nearly two hundred spells, which are often found written on the walls of tombs, on sarcophagi, and on the wrappings of mummies. The dead person was supposed to read these spells as they entered into the underworld, to protect them and ease their journey.

These are not the same as the Pyramid texts, the early spells written on the interior walls of tombs and pyramids. The earliest Book of the Dead dates to around the 15c BCE and are on common use in the tombs in the Valley of the Kings.

At least part of the Book of the Dead includes a sort of confession -- although it is phrased as a series of thing not done (and gives us a good idea of what were considered the worst offenses in Egypt. For example, :

I have not done falsehood against men, I have not impoverished my associates, I have done no wrong in the Place of Truth, I have not learnt that which is not, I have done no evil, I have not daily made labor in excess of what was to be done for me, my name has not reached the offices of those who control slaves, I have not deprived the orphan of his property, I have not done what the gods detest, I have not slandered a servant to his master, I have not caused pain, I have not made hungry, I have not made to weep, I have not killed, I have not turned anyone over to a killer, I have not caused anyone’s suffering, I have not diminished the food-offerings in the temples, I have not debased the offering cakes of the gods.

The Egyptians new these spells and incancations as The Chapters of Coming Forth by Day. A book of these illustrated spells would be commissioned for the dead person.

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r. fingerson