Egyptian Book of the Dead on display at Brooklyn Museum

After three years of careful study and restoration, an important version of the ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead has gone on display in the Brooklyn Museum.

The Book of the Dead was a collection of prayers, spells, and rituals to help the dead in the afterlife. The book has its roots in prehistoric times. As the civilization in Egypt developed, the prayers and spells became more elaborate. Eventually they were gathered together in chapters to create what we call the Book of the Dead. Individual chapters or sets of chapters were written on tombs, mummy cases, and rolls of papyrus. Many burials have portions of the book, one of the largest being the Papyrus of Ani, which you can view online.

The Brooklyn Museum example was for the tomb of Sobekmose, a gold worker. It’s an early and long version, probably dating to the reign of Thutmose III or Amunhotep II (c. 1479–1400 BC). It’s 25 feet long, written on both sides, and contains nearly half of the known Book of the Dead chapters.

Portions of this book have long been on display at the museum. This is the first time the entire book is on display.

[Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons]