From Egypt, Upper Egypt, Thebes, Deir el-Bahri, Tomb of Meritamun (TT 358, MMA 65), first corridor, inside Osiris figure, MMA excavations, 1928–29
l. 521.5 cm (206 5/16 in); h. 35 cm (13 3/4 in)
Rogers Fund, 1930
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 126
Archaeologists found this papyrus in the burial of Nany, a woman in her seventies. She was a singer of the god Amun-Re. Nany also had the title "king's daughter," which probably means that she was a child of the high priest of Amun and titular king, Painedjem I. As was customary during the Third Intermediate Period, Nany's coffins (30.3.23–.25) and boxes of shabtis (30.3.26–.30) were accompanied by a hollow wooden Osiris figure, which contained a papyrus scroll inscribed with a collection of texts called the "Book of Coming Forth by Day" – better known to us as the Book of the Dead. When unrolled, this scroll is more than seventeen feet long.
The scene depicted here shows the climax of the journey to the afterlife. Nany is in the Hall of Judgment. Holding her mouth and eyes in her hand, she stands to the left of a large scale. Her heart is being weighed against Maat, the goddess of justice and truth, who is represented as a tiny figure wearing her symbol, a single large feather, in her headband. On the right, Osiris, god of the underworld and rebirth, presides over the scene. He wears the white crown of Upper Egypt and the curving beard of a god. His body is wrapped like a mummy except for his hands, which clasp a crook. On the table before him is an offering of a joint of beef. Canine-headed Anubis, overseer of mummification, adjusts the scales, while a baboonsymbolizing Thoth, the god of wisdom and writingsits on the balance beam and prepares to write down the result. Behind Nany stands the goddess Isis, both wife and sister of Osiris. She is identified by the hieroglyph above her head. In this scene, Nany has been found truthful and therefore worthy of entering the afterlife. Anubis says to Osiris, "Her heart is an accurate witness, "and Osiris replies," Give her her eyes and her mouth, since her heart is an accurate witness." In the horizontal register above the judgment scene, Nany appears in three episodes: worshipping the divine palette with which all is written, praising a statue of Horus in his falcon form, and standing by her own tomb.
Museum excavations, 1928-29. Acquired by the Metropolitan Museum in the division of Finds, 1930.
Niwinski, Andrzej 1989. Studies on the illustrated Theban funerary papyri of the 11th and 10th centuries B.C., Orbis biblicus et orientalis, 86. Freibourg, Switzerland: Biblical Institute of the University of Freibourg Switzerland, p. 347 (New York 13).
Aston, David 2009. Burial Assemblages of Dynasty 21–25: Chronology – Typology – Developments. Contributions to the chronology of the Eastern Mediterranean, vol. 21, Denkschriften der Gesamtakademie, 56. Vienna: Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, pp. 202, 311.
Metropolitan Museum of Art 2012. The Metropolitan Museum of Art Guide. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, p.53.