The Egyptian Book of the Dead: A Pre-Historic How-To Guide to the Afterlife
Renowned British Egyptologist Dr. Raymond Faulkner painstakingly translated one of the key pieces to understanding ancient Egyptian beliefs about the afterlife; this work is known as The Papyrus of Ani to Egyptologists, but in popular culture it’s known as The Egyptian Book of the Dead.
This papyrus was part of The Book of the Dead, a collection of writings that served as magical guides through the afterlife. The ancient Egyptians placed these different pieces of writing in order to help the deceased survive the trials and tribulations that were part of their journey into the afterlife. If their soul managed to make their way through the afterlife’s adventures, including the weighing of the heart ceremony where the jackal-headed god Anubis judged if you were a good person in life or not, then you gained entry into the ancient Egyptian version of heaven.
However, this particular papyrus was badly damaged in the 19th Century and scholars were confused which tomb painting was associated with which piece of writing. Thanks to Faulkner, The Papyrus of Ani is reorganized into its proper place and is available in its entirety for students of Egyptology and history buffs to enjoy. All of the paintings are reproduced with eye-catching colors and, as an added bonus, the English translation is set right underneath the corresponding hieroglyphics.
The Egyptian Book of the Dead combines the philosophy and mysticism of this ancient culture with astronomy and anthropology too. Even if you’re not a serious scholar or even a fan of ancient Egypt, this book is fascinating because it’s a glimpse at the spirituality of early humans. Plus, it shows that even back in ancient Egypt they had the same concerns, worries, and ethics as we do today. In the end, The Egyptian Book of the Dead humanizes the ancients and showcases some of their most beautiful and moving spiritual writings.