Book of the Dead
Also Egyptian Book of the Dead (known to the ancient Egyptians as The Book of Coming Forth by Day).
A collection of ancient Egyptian religious and magical texts, hymns and formulas concerned with the ensuring the safe passage of the soul or life force (Ka) through Anenti, the Egyptian Hell.
The Egyptians believed that knowledge of these formulas, hymns, and prayers enabled the soul to ward off demons attempting to impede its progress, and to pass the tests set by the 42 judges in the hall of Osiris, god of the underworld. The soul passing these tests was allowed to mingle with the gods. If it failed the tests, it was devoured by a monster that was part hippopotamus, part crocodile, and part lion.
The texts of the Book of the Dead also indicated that happiness in the afterlife was dependent on the deceased's having led a virtuous life on earth.
Part of the Book of the Dead is believed to have originated in the pre-dynastic period of Egyptian history. In the 5th and 6th dynasties the Book of the Dead was inscribed on the sarcophagi in the pyramids of the kings and therefore became known as the Pyramid Texts. By the 18th Dynasty it was inscribed on papyri, which were frequently from 15 to 30 m (50 to 100 ft) long and illustrated in color. These papyri were placed in or near the coffins of the dead and were sometimes called Coffin Texts.
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Sources: (1) Pinch, Geraldine, Egyptian Mythology: A Guide to the Gods, Goddesses, and Traditions of Ancient Egypt, Oxford University Press; (2) Remler, Pat, Egyptian Mythology A to Z, Facts on File Publishing; (3) Bunson, Margaret R., Encyclopedia of Ancient Egypt, Facts on File Publishing.
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