Exhibitions: The Mummy Chamber

Book of the Dead of the Goldworker of Amun, Sobekmose

This is one of the most important religious texts of the New Kingdom, in part because it is an early version of the Book of the Dead, revealing the development of all later ones. The papyrus is about twenty-five feet long, inscribed on both sides (a rare feature), and contains nearly one hundred “chapters,” almost half of the total known group of Book of the Dead texts. Several of the chapters are closer to those found in the Coffin Texts, the collection of funeral texts used in the previous period.

The texts on the recto (or front side) are written in approximately 530 columns of hieroglyphs reading down and from right to left. English translations are provided for certain key passages. Understanding these evocative texts can be challenging; even Egyptologists cannot claim with certainty that they know what some of the phrases and sentences mean. (A full translation of this Book of the Dead has been undertaken and will be published by the Museum.)