Art/ Collection/ Art Object
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Book of the Dead of the Priest of Horus, Imhotep (Imuthes)

Period:
Early Ptolemaic Period
Date:
ca. 332–200 B.C.
Geography:
From Egypt; Probably from Middle Egypt, Meir
Medium:
Papyrus, ink
Dimensions:
Approximate measurements (framed): L. 219 m (71 ft. 10 3/16 in); H. 35 cm (1 ft. 1 3/4 in.). Length previously estimated at 63 ft. (192 m).
Credit Line:
Gift of Edward S. Harkness, 1935
Accession Number:
35.9.20a–w
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 134
This papyrus, along with a second (35.9.21a–o), belonged to the Priest Who Supports The Body of Horus, Imhotep (Greek Imouthes), the son of the Priest of Horus Pasherientaihet (Psintaes) and Tjehenet, a Musician of Hathor, Lady of Cusae (Meir). Since the family held priestly offices in Middle Egypt, where Imhotep's coffin was found in 1913, the two papyri most likely come from his burial.

Imhotep's Book of Coming forth by Day, commonly known as a Book of the Dead, was designed to help Imhotep make a successful transition from death to eternal life, and to ensure his safety and well-being in the realm of the dead. Written in a cursive script known as hieratic and read from right to left, it is divided into 182 columns, each containing one or more spells, incantations, or prayers. A continuous frieze of vignettes along the top, as well as larger drawings filling the height of the papyrus, illustrate or subsitute for individual spells. Neither texts nor images follow a narrative sequence, but instead represent a compilation of spells grouped, to some extent, by theme.

Links to two blogs about this papyrus:
Scrolling Through Imhotep's Book of the Dead
A New Life for the Book of the Dead

Links to two short videos:
Imhotep's Book of the Dead
The Weighing of the Heart
Excerpts from the text:

Spell 1*: jr Sd mDA.t tn Hr-tp tA jw=f jr s(t) m zXA.w Hr qrs(.t) jw=f pr=f m hrw nb n mr.t=f anx=f Hr-tp tA nn Sna.tw=f...

As for the one who recites this text upon earth or makes it in writing upon burial, he can go forth on any day as he wishes, living upon earth without being turned back...

Spell 9: j bA aA-Sf.yt mk Wsjr jy-m-Htp pn mAa xrw jw(.w) wbA=f dwA.t mAA=f it=f Ra sHri n=f kkw ntf mr{wt}=f... wn (n)=f wA.t nb.t jm.j(.t) p.t jm.j(.t) tA...j nTr nb nTr.t nb(.t) jr n=f wA.t

O Ba great of awe, behold, this Osiris Imhotep true of voice has come, so that he may open the netherworld and see his father, Re, having driven away darkness. It is he whom he loves... Open for him every way that is in heaven and on earth...O every god and every goddess, make way for him.

Spell 17: jnk nTr aA xpr Ds=f mw pw Nw.w jt nTr.w

ptr jr=f sw nTr aA xpr Ds=f pw Nw.w jt nTr.w

ky Dd Ra pw qmA rn=f m nb xr nTr.w

ptr jr=f sw ra pw qmA Ha.w=f xpr nn nTr.w jm.jw-xt Ra...

jnk sf rx.kw dwA.w

ptr jr=f sw jr sf Wsjr jr dwA.w Ra pw hrw pf n Htm sbj.w n.w nb-r-Dr Hna sp.n.tw=f sA=f Hr.w

I am the great god who came into being of himself. It is water. (It is) Nun, the father of the gods.

Who is it then? Nun is the great god who came into being of himeslf, father of the gods.

Another saying It is Re who created his name as lord before the gods

Who is it then? It is Re who created his body, when these gods who are in the following of Re came into being...

I am yesterday and I know tomorrow.

Who is it then? As for yesterday - (it is) Osiris. As for tomorrow - it is Re on that day in which the rebels against the Lord of All were destoryed, as he - his son Horus - was appointed.

Spell 18: j DHwtj smAa-xrw wsjr r xft.jw=f smAa=k xrw wsjr jy-m-Htp ms(.w) n THn.t tn mAa(.t)-xrw r xft.jw=f mj smAa=k xrw wsjr r xft.jw=f m-bAH DADA.t aA.t jm.jw Dd.w grH pf n saHa Dd m DD.w

jr DADA.t aA.t jm.jw Dd.w wsjr As.t nb.t-Hw.t Hrw pw nD-Hr-jt=f wsjr

jr saHa Dd m Dd.w qaH(.w) pw n.tt Hr.w xnt.j xm jw sn HA wsjr {mrH} n Hbs

O Thoth justifier of Osiris against his enemies, may you justify Osiris Imhotep born of this Tjehenet true of voice against his enemies like you justify Osiris against his enemies before the great tribunal which is in Djedu (Busiris) on that night of erecting the Djed-pillar

As for the great tribunal which is in Djedu - it is Osiris, Isis, Nephthys and this Horus protector of his father, Osiris.

As for the erecting of the Djed-pillar in Djedu - it is the forearms of Horus, foremose of Khem, being around Osiris like binds of cloth.

Spell 32: k(y) r' n Hsf msH.w jy r jT(.t) jb n wsjr Hr.w-Dsr-Ha.w jy-m-Htp pn mAa-xrw jr. n nb.t-pr THn.t mAa-xrw m Xr.t-nTr Dd mdw jn wsjr jy-m-Htp pn mAa-xrw sA n pA-Sri-n-tA-jH.t pb mAa xrw ms n THn.t mAa(.t)-xrw

xr wr Hr gs=f sAq s(w) psD.t=f jy bA Hna jt=f nHm=f wr pn m-a msH.w jptn jnk jw=j rx=kw st m rn=sn Hna anx=sn jnk nHm jt=f m-a=sn

HA=k anx m jxm-wrD jw bw.t=k m X.t=i am.n=j m wsr.t wsjr...

Another spell for repelling the crocodiles that come to steal the heart of this Osiris Horus who Sanctifies the Body Imhotep true of voice born of mistress of the house, Tjehenet, true of voice in the god's land. Words spoken by this Osiris Imhotep true of voice son of Pasherientaihet true of voice born of Tjehenet true of voice:

The great one fell on his side, but his Ennead has pulled him together. The ba has come with his father, while he saves this great one from these crocodiles. As for me, I know them by their names and by (that on which) the live. I am the one who saves his father from them.

Get back! one who lives (feeds) on the circumpolar stars. Your abomination is in my belly, having swollen from the power of Osiris...

* Text written in red ink is represented here with bold font

Niv Allon 2015
Purchased in Cairo in 1923 by Albert Lythgoe for Edward S. Harkness. Loaned to the Museum in 1924. Donated to the Museum with the Harkness Collection, 1935.

Phillips, Dorothy W. 1942. Ancient Egyptian Animals, Picture Books (Metropolitan Museum of Art), New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, fig. 27.

Glubok, Shirley 1962. The Art of Ancient Egypt. New York: Atheneum, p. 47.

Logan, Thomas J. 1978. "Varia Metropolitana II." In Göttinger Miszellen: Beitrage zur Ägyptologischen Diskussion, 27, pp. 33-35.

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