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on 27 November 2010
In life it is good to have read widely to help you avoid being conned. This book will give you a more balanced outlook on life. If you know what the early religious writings record then you will get a good comparison with the Old Testament (written 700+ish years later) and N.T. 1500ish years later & current beliefs. It is very interesting to compare the Book of the Dead with the Bible. There are many similarities, it almost looks like a proto type of the Bible. Has God worked to evolve religions or do the changes just reflect peoples growing intellect due to their knowledge of the world and themself?
A surprisingly big box arrived at my door. When I opened it and lifted out this weighty book I imagined, momentarily, that I was opening a wooden crate ,direct from Egypt, filled with wood shreddings and lifted out these long lost treasures. There are superb photos of the various papyri through out this book. The next best thing to owning the originals at a bargain price. Good clear commentary too.
The highlights for me:
Ch4 'The day of burial' p35 sacrifice of the calf, attendants carry calfs heart and leg still pulsating with life to sacrifice offerin table.
Ch 8 'Avoiding Disaster', p188 The Duat was the place where the unrighteous were punished at the command of Osiris"
Ch9 'Judgement' p 204 "In the hall of judgement the gods considered a man's past conduct as well as his present state of readiness. Here for the first time in Egyptian records the idea is clearly developed that obtaining the benefits of eternal life depended on correct behaviour on earth"....The Egyptians idea of good and bad behaviour are known from many texts...correct behaviour meant maintaining the balance of society and showing reverence to the gods; it was expressed mainly by paying respect to senior figures, supporting the less fortunate (clothing the naked or feeding the hungry)....These precepts were simply based on human experience...correct behaviour was equated with Maat...the moral system prevalent in a given society is transposed into the realm of the gods and related beings so that they too become its practioners and ipso facto, its guarantors and validation.
p208 "The protestation of innocence"; spell 125 "I have done no falsehood, I have not robbed, I have not stolen, I have not killed men, I have not stolen god's offerings, I have not told lies, I have not committed perjury, I have not been hot-tempered" etc = modern day alpha idea "justasifi'd never sinned"
p217 'Judgement in the Lake of Fire'. This lake located in the Duat executed a kind of judgement on those who approached it, the evil were burned in its flames, but the blessed received nourishment from it. It reflected the idea that salvation could be gained by being purged of one's evil deeds.
p235 Arms upstretched praising the Aten
Ch 10 'The perfect Afterlife', p239 "Hail to you King of Kings, Lord of Lords, Ruler of Rulers...", p242 The idea of an eternal paradise can be traced back long before the Book of the Dead. It's location and role changed over time. Originally, as described in the Pyramid Texts, it was part of the watery expanse of the night sky... p247 plate "giving praise to Ra when he rises on the horizon"
p248 pl126 The sun god Ra was the guarantor of eternal life and to travel in his boat across the sky enabled a dead person to experience endless rejuvenation. The deceased kneels adoring the sun god in a boat, The god appears in three forms- as falcon headed Ra-Horakhty (the daytime sun), as Atum with a double crown(the evening sun) as Khepri with a scareb on his head (the morning sun), horus mans the steering oar and Harpocrates sits at the prow.
p250 Osiris accompanied by Maat, the personification of order and truth
p252 Tomb chapel topped with small pyramid [looking remarkably like a modern church)
p275 Thoth, 'Lord of the Gods words',deity of Scribes
p303 Two lions sitting back to back represent Yesterday and Tomorrow.
P 305 picture of Osiris sitting in judgement at the weighing of the heart
Are these works inspired by real gods? This was a society which also (though perhaps at an earlier stage) had the practice of proclaiming a man king for 30 years at the end of which he was cannabalised so his spirit could pass to the next king.
This book is one of the best heirlooms to hand on to future generations. Important to preserve the pictures & texts in books before they disintegrate in museums. A good companion book and study guide to the Bible. Once you read it you will find the Bible much funnier and more entertaining.
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on 21 March 2011
This is a splendid book, packed full of detailed and colourful illustrations of all facets of the funerary practice of the ancient Egyptians... including but not limited to the "Book of Coming Forth by Day" itself. It will be greatly enjoyed by anyone who was fortunate enough to visit the recent British Museum exhibition on this subject, but is far more than a simple tour guide. For those less familiar with Egyptian material there are maps and timelines, but it is fair to say that you will get more from the book if you have some prior knowledge of the topic.

Throughout the book, in text and image, the exuberance with which ancient Egypt faced and prepared for the next life is made clear - without trivialising the human grief and tragedy that death brings into any culture. It makes our own attitudes look positively morbid, and provokes personal reflection on these matters. The range and timespan of the chosen artefacts shows how some Egyptian attitudes to death remained constant, while others evolved through time. Best of all, the book remains faithful to the Egyptian method of presenting information by combining word and picture, rather than just one or the other. Personally I'd have liked a few more translations of the writing within the scenes, but there are literally hundreds of pictures so perhaps this would have been a task too far.

As well as showing how the ancient Egyptians used the material in a religious sense, later parts of the book describe more earthly matters - how the scribes would have designed and prepared a copy for a particular individual, and how a modern-day researcher seeks to comprehend it.

All in all this is not only a well researched and well thought-out book, but a beautiful one as well, and a fine addition to the Egypt section of your bookshelf.
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on 13 February 2011
The subject is adequately covered using mainly papyrus source material supplemented with commentary and related illustrations of artefacts associated with beliefs and burial practices. It is more useful to readers with some previous Egyptological background and some familiarity with tomb 'decoration'.
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on 9 May 2014
The truth. A must read for anybody soul-searching or seeking some of the last remnants or African spirituality before the pillaging, plaigurism and indoctrination.
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on 3 November 2014
for the interested person an excellent introduction to egyptian mythology and priciples for undertaking the journey through the afterlife
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on 18 January 2015
Arrived on time, well packed and condition was perfect. The book itself is as expected, good coffee table book - lots of iillustrations.
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on 31 December 2014
Daughter is really interested in Egyptians, she loves this book, so different to the standard books about Egyptians
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on 21 July 2014
This is a BIG book that I got at a bargain price. Brimming with incredible pictures and interesting text.
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on 1 December 2014
All good thanks
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on 9 February 2015
Great buy
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