Friday, July 20, 2007

The Book of Caverns

The Book of Caverns appears to have originated in the Ramessid Period (the 20th Dynasty). As an underworld book, it seems almost to emphasize that previous text had been too soft on those deceased who fail their judgment in the afterlife, while at the same time focusing also on the rewards of those who do. It is, in fact, one of our best sources on the ancient Egyptian concept of Hell.

The Osireion, a well known cenotaph of Seti I located at Abydos, along with his mortuary temple, has the first known version of The Book of Caverns that is nearly complete (having its upper register damaged. It is found directly across from the rendering of the Book of Gates within the entry corridor on the left wall. Hence, it appears to be a relatively late funerary text of the New Kingdom, not showing up at all until the 19th Dynasty, and not making it into the tombs within the Valley of the Kings until the following reigns. A deviated version of the final depictions are given a dominant position in the decorative theme of the sarcophagus chamber in the tombs of Merneptah (KV8), Tausert (KV14) and Ramesses III (KV11), so versions of this book may have also been inscribed on earlier gilded shrines around the sarcophagi. Unfortunately, these earlier shrines are lost to us, so that possibility may never be known.

In the third corridor of the tomb of Ramesses IV (KV2) in the Valley of the Kings, Ramesses IV employed the earliest versions of the first and second sections of The Book of Caverns, rather than the traditional Amduat passages, and then repeats these passages twice more in the room behind his sarcophagus chamber. By the reign of Ramesses VI (KV9), we find an almost complete version of the book, here as in the Osireion, opposite the Book of Gates in the front half of the tomb, though due to the limited wall space, some passages had to be continued on pillars and in the upper pillared hall as well. While in the tomb of Ramesses VII (KV1), we find a similar arrangement to that of Ramesses VI on the right wall, here only the first corridor is decorated, with a small excerpt from The Book of Caverns second section. Later though, in the Tomb of Ramesses IX (KV6), there were selections from the first four sections on the right wall of the first and second corridors. However, in the sarcophagus chamber we also find parts of the two remaining sections of the book.

Afterwards, bits and pieces of The Book of Caverns appears here and there, during various periods. For example, the first section and passages of the fourth section, along with the concluding representations were included on a 21st Dynasty papyrus of Nedjmet. There is also a Late Period version in the tomb of Petamenophis that has yielded otherwise missing parts of the text, and another Late Period version containing the first two sections of the book were inscribed on the Nilometer at Roda Island. Though used rarely on late sarcophagi, one example exists with the book's first two sections, along with parts of the Amduat and the Litany of Re.

Jean Francois Champollion apparently first described the version of the book in the tomb of Ramesses VI, and even provided some translations in his thirteenth letter he sent from Egypt. However, no scholars seemed particularly interested in the book until a century later when a second complete version was discovered in the Osireion. Henri Frankfort tried to compose the first translation of that text, assisted by Adriaan de Buck in 1933. However, it was not until the period between 1941 and 1646 that Alexandre Piankoff executed an edition of the text based on several versions which he translated into French. He also translated the text from the tomb of Ramesses VI into English in 1954. Not until 1972 was a version translated into German by Erik Hornung, and a synoptic edition of the text has never been published.

The name we give this text, The Book of Gates, is a modern invention based on the netherworld being divided into "caves" or actually "caverns" from the Egyptian "qerert", for no original title has ever been discovered. However, it should be noted that Piankoff translated qerert to mean "envelope" or "cocoon". Unlike the Amduat and the Book of Gates, this book is not divided up into regions of the night, though an attempt is made to follow the general divisions divided up between three registers. However, these registers often had to be staggered due to space limitations. In all, every version divides the two initial sections into five registers. We also end up with problems in the version of the book in the tombs of Ramesses VI and Ramesses IX, for apparently the initial design of these versions was meant for a left hand wall, but transposed on the right hand wall.

The Book of Caverns is divided into two halves by two large depictions of the ram headed sun god, and each half is further divided into three parts. Hence there are a total of six sections. The text of the first two sections of the book are separated from the representations, with the text placed after the representations, though this order is reversed in the version found in the tomb of Ramesses VII. Here, the sun god invokes the individual beings or groups of gods depicted in the representations within a long monologue. The remaining sections combine representations and captions, as well as a descriptive formula of the earlier books. Each section within the second half of The Book of Caverns is preceded by several litanies, with section five having a total of thirteen.

Like the Book of Gates, the Book of Caverns, with the exception of the final representation, divides the text into registers with further pictures. It should also be noted that it is more literary then previous funerary books of the New Kingdom, having a higher percentage of text to pictures. In section five, the depictions are of Nut and Osiris, with the image of Nut alluding to the theme of the Books of the Sky, which describes the nightly journey of the sun through the body of Nut.

The solar bargue is only found within the final representations. In sections three through six in which the damned and their punishment (occupying the lower registers) are not depicted, the individual scenes have a sun disk. The beings who are portrayed in the various caverns are often enclosed in ovals, while there are sarcophagi that enclose the bodies of gods and goddesses. In the single example found in the tomb of Ramesses VI, some two hundred remarks were added referring to the king.

The obvious theme of this book, like other such text, is the sun god's nightly passage through the netherworld. Interestingly, the distinction between Osiris and Re are clouded, and both actually seem to be viewed as attributes of a sole deity. A principle motif of the book is established primarily in section three. Here, Osiris, who is more prominent then in most prior funerary text, is encountered by Re as a corpse in his "coffer". In section four the god begins to regenerate. Less prominent is the battle with Apophis found in the Amduat and the Book of Gates.

First Section of the Book of Caverns

At the very beginning of the book, two vertical strips depict the solar disk and Re as a ram headed sun god. This is "Re who is in the sky", and his mission is to enter the primeval darkness in order to defend and and provide care to Osiris. Afterwards, depictions of section one are divided into five registers. The separate text is a monologue of Re directing various groups of entities. Here, the three snakes of the Duat's first cavern guard the cavern entrance. Re faces Osiris with his hand extended to him in the third register. We see Osiris within his shrine, protectively surrounded by a serpent, as are his followers inside their sarcophagi. In the bottom register, Osiris' enemies are shown beheaded though still guarded by another three serpents. They are to be punished in the "Place of Annihilation", an ancient Egyptian concept of Hell, as Re condemns them to nonexistence.

Second Section of the Book of Caverns

In section two, Re must reach the various gods and goddesses in their sarcophagi who are guarded by several serpents. He meets various forms of Osiris in the second register and beseeches them to "open their arms to me...receive me". In the third register, Re encounters Osiris in his coffer, which sits aside the ram and jackal headed posts of the sun god found also in the Book of Gates. Other forms of Osiris are encountered in the fourth register, while in the lowest register, we again find Osiris' enemies who are bound and beheaded. Some of these figures are depicted hanging head first with their hearts torn out. Once again, Re condemns them to nonexistence, sending them to the Place of Annihilation where their punishment is carried out by guards with knives. Now, Osiris is told by Re that he will enter the "cavern where Aker is".

Third Section of the Book of Caverns

Hence, in the third section, Re enters the cavern that contains Aker and finds the ithyphallic body of Osiris lying beneath Aker, an earth god. Here, in the first register, Osiris is depicted as the dead king in his sarcophagus, which is guarded by several serpents. After that scene we find depicted several figures with the heads of catfish. They are the helpers of Aker who we will encounter again, and represent the deepest and darkest regions of earth and water. In addition, Re also finds other manifestations of himself within sarcophagi, while the end of the register is filled with divine sarcophagi "in the cavern of Osiris-Khentamentiu".
In the middle register of the third section, we initially encounter Re once again in his manifestation as the Eldest One, who leans on a staff. He addresses four forms of Osiris as the "lords of the Duat". The center scene in this register depicts Aker as a double sphinx surrounded by the gods of the Ennead. The next scene seems to stress the unity of Re and Osiris, with the corpse of Osiris in his sarcophagus, along with a Ram's head, and the eye of Re in sarcophagi. Surrounding all of this is a ouroboros. Next, Osiris is once again shown surmounting a serpent as "the one who has become two".

In the lower register of section three, we once again encounter those who are in hell. In this case, the "enemies" are all upside down and some have been decapitated. Here, in the first two groups who are pleading for mercy, we find for the first time, female enemies. Now the wicked are in the primeval darkness of the Place of Annihilation, and by the end of the register, even their ba (souls) are upside down, and thus being punished. Interestingly, the ithyphallic corpse of Osiris is also here among the enemies, but the sun disk sits above him, and he is protected by a serpent.

Fourth Section of the Book of Caverns

The second half of the Book of Caverns begins with section four. Initially we find an erect serpent named Great One on His Belly, with the solar disk and the ram headed sun god to either side. Here, the opening text in vertical columns consists of three litanies praising the sun god, praising his beauty as he illuminates the region of darkness. Re faces Osiris and his followers and makes a number of promises. In the upper register, we first encounter Isis and Nephthys who lift the body of Osiris so that he may be resurrected. This is followed by a scene depicting Osiris being cared for by his two "sons", Anubis and Horus and following this, Osiris is portrayed as the Bull of the West, accompanies by Horus-Mekhentienirty, a mongoose (ichneumon) who is his son.

The second register of section four begins with Re, one more leaning on a staff, facing the three forms of Osiris. This is followed by a scene depicting Horus and Anubis protecting the double corpse of Osiris, and another scene where they stand in a pose symbolic of protecting Osiris and his ba.

In the lower register, we once again encounter the enemies in hell, who are found and standing on their heads, which this time have not been cut off. However, between them are the "annihilators in the Place of Annihilation,". In this initial scene, the punishing demon is Miuti, the "cat-formed one, from whose clutches there is no escape". We are told that there bodies have been robbed of their souls, and that they can neither see nor hear Re.

Fifth Section of the Book of Caverns

At the beginning of the fifth section of the Book of Caverns, Tatenen, the litanies reveal a little known but important deity as both an earth god and the father of the gods, who rejuvenates the sun. The initial depictions portrays Nut, the goddess of the sky, who lifts the ram headed sun god and the solar disk on her upraised palms. She faces the three registers and is surrounded by motifs representing the course of the sun, including on one side a scarab pushing the solar disk, then a ram, a disk, a ram headed deity and a child, while on the other side, a series of crocodiles pushes a ram's head, a scarab, an utchat eye and a disk. There is also human headed, bearded serpents that rear up on either side of Nut. Her arms are stretched towards the heavens in order to receive the solar child. Here, Nut is called the Mysterious One and "she with the mysterious form.".

A part of the Fifth Section of the Book of Caverns

The upper register of section five begins with Osiris, whose hands are extended out to Re, along with four human headed serpents. In the next scene, we encounter a representation of Tatenen, who is propped up by the corpses of Atum and Khepri. Next, we find two sarcophagi, one of which encases the two manifestations of Re as a child.

In the middle register, initially we find represented the four falcon headed mummies who are forms of Horus, which is followed by Anubis in his role as guardian and a coffin containing the scepter of Atum, which embodies the creative power of the sun god, and therefore "created the netherworld and brought forth the realm of the dead". At the end of this register, we find four unknown goddesses in sarcophagi.

The bottom register of this section opens once again with the ancient Egyptian concept of Hell, where a female deity who carries two stakes in her hand is about to punish two bound prisoners who kneel before her. In the following two scenes the enemies are being punished in large cauldrons. We see in the first cauldron their heads and hearts (which the ancient Egyptians thought of more as the mind), and in the second we find the decapitated, bound, upside down enemies themselves. A uraei fans the flames beneath the cauldrons, which are being held above the fire by the "arms of the Place of Annihilation.

The three registers of section five are interrupted by an image of Osiris, once again depicted in his ithyphallic guise, together with his ba that is symbolized by a bird atop his head. He is guarded by a protective serpent. As the registers continue, we first find an oval containing the four "flesh" hieroglyphs which refer to the corpse of Osiris. His corpse is now cared for by the light and voice of Re. Below this, the goddess Tayt greets the sun god and Osiris, which is followed by a scene depicting the head of Re in its ram manifestation being adored by Osiris and Horus. Another cauldron, in the lower register, contains the flesh, the souls and the shadows of the enemies of Re and Osiris. Once again, the arms of the Place of Annihilation hold the cauldron which is being heated by two goddesses.

It should be noted that the shadow held important connotations to the ancient Egyptians. It was considered to be a major component of an individual, as well as a separate mode of existence. We find the mention of shadows mostly in funerary text such as this, with early references appearing in the Coffin Text of the First Intermediate Period and the Middle Kingdom.

Between section five and six, the final part of the Book of Caverns, there is a long text consisting of thirteen litanies which refer to the prior section (five). Here, Re addresses all the entities, including his enemies, portrayed in the section five. The sun god gazes upon his own corpse with the intent of effecting the resurrection of Osiris-Imenrenef, who is "he whose name is hidden".

Sixth Section of the Book of Caverns

The first scene in the upper register of part six depicts the funerary god, Anubis, caring for corpses ("the bodies which are in the earth") in their sarcophagi, which is followed by a second scene where Anubis tends to the sun god, who in his sarcophagus, is depicted as a ram with a falcon head. In the third scene, the sun god, in several manifestations is now being watched over by two goddesses, each of whom stand on the symbols for flesh. Here, he is presented with a ram's head, as a scarab and in his role as "he of the netherworld". In the final scenes of this register, Osiris-Orion leans over a mound containing a fettered and decapitated figure, followed by a god who prays before a falcon. Osiris is shown protecting Horus, his son, as well as the sun god who is within Horus.

In the middle register, initially we find a scene portraying a scarab beetle pushing the sun disk before it out from "between the two mysterious caverns of the West" (the mountains of sunrise). This cavern contains both Osiris and Re, who are met by four standing gods. Here, text addresses the rebirth of the god, which is heralded by the scarab. Yet, even now there remains a final threat, depicted as the great serpent encircling the solar beetle. This obstacle is overcome by the "two old and great gods in the Duat", who cut the serpent into pieces and place a spell upon it. While this serpent seems malicious, another represented in the third scene appears to regenerates Re, who emerges from the mound in a ram head manifestation, to sit upon the tomb of Tatenen. In a fourth scene, two sarcophagi holding falcon headed gods are encountered by Re, while in the next scene, he meets several gods who are headless. Re restores their head with his creative power.

The motif of the lowest register, consistently followed throughout the Book of Caverns, is once again present in this final part of the sixth section. Again, we find scenes of punishment in the place of Annihilation, where at first, goddesses wielding knives torture supine, beheaded figures with their heads set at their feet and who's hearts have been torn from their bodies. The accompanying text also explains that the soul and shadows of these enemies have also been punished. In the second scene, we encounter four bound female enemies who are guarded by two jackal headed goddesses. Re has condemned these enemies, once again, to the "Place of Annihilation, from which there is no escape". Next, four more headless, kneeling and bound enemies are guarded by a god and goddess, and finally in the last scene, the enemies are thrown head first into the depths of the Place of Annihilation, while Osiris rises out of the abyss.

A final representation after the sixth section of the Book of Caverns shows Re emerging from the "two mounds", which are each protected by a god. We also find the solar barque, towed out of the netherworld by twelve gods, while seven more rejoice to either side. While the boat is not yet completely revealed, we do see the ba, the scarab and the ram headed morning form of the sun god, and in front of the barque, we see a ram headed scarab beetle, along with the sun as a child. A symbolic representation of the route through the netherworld, consisting of two triangles, is sown leading to a large representation of the sun disk. The triangles each are half black (the netherworld) and half blue, representing water. In the end, we finally witness Re at the end of his nightly journey, entering the eastern mountains from where he will rise once more to provide light for the living world.

Friday, July 13, 2007

The Books of the Sky
After the death of Akhenaten, signaling the end of the Amarna Period, we find a new set of Books related to the afterlife. These books centered around Nut, who swallows the sun god in the evening, only to give birth to him in the morning. During the day the sun god passes visibly along her body, but during the night, he travels through her body back to the place where he will rise once more.
Beginning with Ramesses IV, two of the Books of the Sky were usually placed next to each other on the ceilings of royal tombs. They depicted a double representation of Nut, back to back. The the focus is on the sun god, other heavenly bodies are also included. Generally speaking, the books emphasize cosmography and the topography of the sky, a topic which had its beginnings in the Book of the Heavenly Cow, though the astronomical ceilings found in the tombs of Seti I (KV17) through Ramesses III (KV11) can also be viewed as precursors to the Books of the Sky (heavens). These books are generally considered to consist of the Book of Nut, the Book of the Day and the Book of the Night.
Te Book of Nut:

We have actually very few example of the Book of Nut. We find examples in the cenotaph of Seti I at Abydos and in the tomb of Ramesses IV, though the latter is abbreviated. The only other evidence of this book is a commentary written in the Roman Period, and an incomplete version in the tomb of Mutirdis (TT410) dating from the 26th Dynasty. The longer appended text that accompanies the captions was reproduced in the Papyrus Carlsberg in Demotic script.

It was Jean-Francois Champollion and Hippolito Rosellini who published the earliest drawing of the representation of the sky goddess. These, and some investigation that followed, were all from the version found in the tomb (KV2) of Ramesses IV, for the Osireion in Abydos had not been discovered at that point. The commentary from the Roman period was published by H. O. Lange and Otto Neugebauer in 1940.

The book itself is pictorial in nature, and resembles to some degree the Book of the Heavenly Cow. There are brief captions that seem to be overwhelmed by the huge image of the sky. Nut is shown as a woman supported by the God Shu who holds her body aloft. Interestingly, in the tomb of Seti I, she is oriented correctly for the swallowing and birth of the sun, but not in the tomb of Ramesses IV. Other motifs within the scene include several sun disks, a winged scarab in front of the knees of the goddess, a vulture atop the heraldic plant of Upper Egypt behind her legs, and nest of migratory birds next to her arms. The captions on the scene are also accompanied by a longer appended text.
The book is intended to provide both a topography of the sky and an understanding of the sun's daily course. The brief captions augment this understanding and are distributed over the entire scene, describing its details as well as the actions of the sun god, the decans and other divine beings.
O. Neugebauer set out and coded the various captions within the depiction. For example, Text L provides a definition of the "far regions of the sky", that are in the primeval darkness and waters, not touched by the sun. They have no boundaries or cardinal directions. A list of decans that may originate in the Middle Kingdom are provided in Texts S through X. These captions tell us the decans work and their periodic invisibility, including their transit through the meridian. The text labeled Dd through Ff explain migratory birds and their nests.
In the cenotaph of Seti I at Abydos, we find a text reporting a quarrel between Geb and Nut because she is swallowing their children, the stars. The dispute is settled by their father, Shu, who advises that the Nut give birth to the stars each time so they might live.
The Book of the Day:

The Book of the Day, though found in the royal necropolis at Tanis, along with excerpts from the tomb of Osorkon II and a nearly complete version in the tomb of Shoshenq III, is also depicted within the tomb of Ramesses VI. The latest version of the book we have is from the private tomb of Ramose (TT132) that dates from the 25th Dynasty. Otherwise, only brief components of the text regarding the hours of the day have been discovered on sarcophagi and papyri of the Late Period. Also related are the hymns to the hours of the day in the pronaos of the Edfu Temple.

Champoliion originally copied versions of the book from the sarcophagus chamber and corridors of the tomb of Ramesses VI, but they received little attention. In 1942, Alexandre Piankoff published and edition of the book but without regard to the Tanis versions.

The scene and captions of this book are arranged under the figure of the sky goddess Nut, with her arms and legs spread out. All of the figures within the scene face the head of Nut, and so the end of the book. Arranged horizontally into five registers, the text follows the course of the twelve hours of the day. This arrangement, however, makes it unclear where one hour ends and the next begins. A prologue and concluding representation stand out from the main text. It should also be noted that the Book of the Day and the Book of the Night may have been intended as a single entity, but they are only shown together in the tomb of Ramesses VI.

The Book of the Day is notable because, unlike most of the funerary text, it is focused on the journey of the sun god during the day, rather than his nocturnal voyage through the underworld. Hence, the sun god appears with a falcon's head rather than his ram-headed nighttime image. Yet underworld motifs such as the repulsing of Apophis and the Field of Reeds occur in the middle of the composition. Mostly, this book is concerned with the enumeration of deities, with little descriptive text.

The Beginning of the Book of the Day

Book of the Day showing Apophis

Book of the Day showing the Field of Reeds

Book of the Day showing the Last Hour

Conclusion of the Book of the Day

The Book of the Night:

The first version of the Book of the Night that we know of comes from the Osireion at Abydos, and only extends to the ninth hour of the night. There was a copy in the tomb (KV8) of Merneptah on the ceiling of the antechamber, but it is mostly gone now. Ramesses IV included this book next to the Book of Nut on the ceiling of his sarcophagus chamber, though only as far as the fourth hour. However, the tomb (KV9) of Ramesses VI gives us two complete copies, one on the west side of the ceiling of the sarcophagus chamber while the second version is spread out through earlier chambers Both versions are complemented by representations of the Book of the Day. We also find scenes from the book in the tomb of Ramesses IX

In all of these instances, the book is depicted on the ceiling of the New Kingdom tombs, though at Tanis, they shifted to the walls. Osorkon II combined it with the Book of the Day, while Shoshenq III followed Seti I's version.

During the Late Period, we also find extracts from the book in several tombs, including TT33, 132 and 410, along with fragments from the Nilometer at Roda. Even as late as the 30th Dynasty we may also note examples on sarcophagi, where they are combined with hours from the Amduat. There are also text from the second hour of the night found in the solar sanctuaries of Deir el-Bahri, Medinet Habu and Karnak.

Again, Champollion provided the initial copies of the versions found in the tomb of Ramesses VI, and later Eugene Lefebure added the Ramesses IV version in 1889. Edouard Naville discovered the version of the Book of the Night in the cenotaph of Seti I at Abydos in 1914, which was published by Henri Frankfort in 1933. Alexandre Piankoff also published the Book of the Night in 1942, but again did not take into account the versions found in the Tanis tombs. That version was replaced by one written by Gilles Roulin.

The Book of the Night is divided into twelve sections separated from each other by vertical line of text designated as "gates". Unlike the Book of Gates, these precede the hours of the night to which they belong. The arms and legs of Nut represent the first and last gate, though the first hour is not presented. For each hour there is an introductory text which provides the most important details, though the remaining captions are brief.

The book is arranged in three registers that are staggered into five to seven registers due to space considerations. The sun barque travelers through the center register. Within this boat, the sun god, who is in his shrine, is surrounded by the coils of the Mehen-serpent while another serpent protects him. The crew of his boat features Sia at the prow as the spokesman of the god, Hu at the stern, Ma'at, and in the version at Abydos, the king. Within the upper registers are various deities while the lower register features various groups of deceased people, including the blessed and the damned. In front of the boat is a large group of towmen, sometimes as many as thirty, called the Unwearing Ones, who are led by the king. There is no descriptive text like that found in he Books of the Netherworld, and generally, the registers are not divided into scenes. At the end, a summary of the entire course of the sun is provided.

There must obviously be many similarities between this book and other Books of the Netherworld. Interestingly, however, the sun's enemy Apophis does not appear in this book at all though he appears in the Neitherworld books. Instead, the repelling of Seth is mentioned several times. This book complements the Book of the Day, beginning at the point where the sun god is swallowed by Nut and ending when she gives birth to him in the morning as a scarab. The sun god take the form of the Ram-headed nocturnal god, and is designated as flesh.

Sia takes an important role in this book, appearing as the spokesman of the sun god. The sun god has his own escort in the middle register of each hour, in place of the hour goddesses who accompany him in the Amduat and the Book of Gates.

Only in the Seti I version are remains of an introductory text. Here, the sun god provides us with an explanation of the goal of his journey through the underworld, which has to do with judging the damned and caring for the blessed. The primeval darkness is mentioned as a border area.

As in the Amduat and the Book of Gates, the first hour is seen as interstitial, and thus is not presented. The book begins with the second hour, where in the upper register depicts both individual and groups of deities. These include the deities of the four cardinal points, the bas of Buto and Hierakonpolis, and the two Enneads, which stand for the all divine beings.

In the upper register of the seventh hour, general forms also appear that represent existence and nonexistence. To their opposite are all of the deceased in the lower register, appearing as transfigured ones (akhu), mummies and the "dead", who are damned.

Missing is the union of Re and Osiris, found in other funerary text, though the representation of bas and corpses in the lower register of the sixth hour indicates the longed for union in the depths of night, with which the regeneration in the seventh hour is connected. Here, the critical moment requires the overcoming of various enemies. In the lower register of the seventh hour, another motif that first appears in the Book of Gates (13th scene) takes form. here, Horus looks upon both foreigners (shown as Asiatics, Libyans, Medja bedouins and Nubians) and Egyptians (shown as dwellers in the fertile land and the desert). The foreigners are depicted as bound enemies. The speech of the sun god also includes motifs from the 21st scene of the Book of Gates.

On the lower register of the eighth hour we find an enthroned Osiris, with Horus and the other gods connected with him in attendance. He is shown in victory over enemies, though only in Late Period representations are they directly addressed as Seth. Here, the groups of the blessed and damned are turned to Osiris is prayer, and their depiction continues into the ninth hour, when they are addressed by Sia. He dictates their fate in the afterlife and their attachment to Osiris, but in the tenth hour, only the blessed appear in the lower register.

The towmen preceding the solar barque are joined by four jackals designated "Western bas" in the twelfth and last hour. Here, the deities, including Osiris, in the lower register pray before the concluding representation which summarizes the entire course of the sun. The sun god, with the help of the primeval gods, is transformed into a scarab and a child. In the backdrop are the two boats of his daytime and nighttime passage, together with Isis and Nephthys who were later depicted in the prow of the barques, keeping the sun in motion between them. The text here refers to the total course of the sun god in the three cosmic realms consisting of the netherworld (Duat), the primeval waters (Nun) and the sky (Nut).

At the end is a description of the "Western bas". who tow the sun god into the sky.

1st and 2nd Hour of the Book of the Night

3rd Hour of the Book of the Night

4th Hour of the Book of the Night

5th Hour of the Book of the Night

6th Hour of the Book of the Night

7th Hour of the Book of the Night

8th Hour of the Book of the Night

9th Hour of the Book of the Night

10th Hour of the Book of the Night

11th Hour of the Book of the Night

12th Hour of the Book of the Night

Conclusion of the Book of the Night

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The Pyramid of
Unas at Saqqara

The Pyramid of Unas at Saqqara, even though the smallest of the Old Kingdom Royal pyramids, is considerably more famous and better known then the king who built it. This is because, for the first time that we know of, the 128 magical spells of the Pyramid Text appear on the walls of its subterranean chambers. It was once called "Beautiful are the (cult) Places of Unas", but today it is little more then a pile of rubble that, sitting next to the famous Step Pyramid, seems hardly noticeable.

Viewed of the south face

Unas' pyramid did not go unnoticed by Perring and shortly afterwards, of Lepsius, who numbered it 35 on his archaeological map. But its significance was not known until after Maspero, already having found parts of the Pyramid Text in Pepi I and Merenre I's pyramids, decided to reexamine Unas' pyramid in 1881. In 1899, at Maspero's request, Alexandre Barsanti began an investigation, that unfortunately was not all that systematic, of the pyramid that would last until 1901. He also partially excavated Unas' mortuary temple, as well as other nearby structures. Firth continued the excavation of the temple in 1929, but he regrettably died in 1931. His work was taken up by Lauer from 1936 until 1939, and then by Hassain, Goneim and Hussan, all Egyptian archaeologists. They continued to excavate the site until 1949. In the 1970s, Ahmad Musa, another Egyptian, excavated the lower half of the causeway and the valley temple.

The causeway is not straight, making two turns in order to probably avoid uneven ground or even other buildings. In fact, material from older buildings was used in the causeway's underpaving. In the 1970s the Egyptian archaeologist, Mousa, reconstructed the "tomb of the two brothers", Niankhkhnum and Khnumhotep", which is now a popular tourist stop, mostly from blocks found in Unas' causeway. Polychrome bas-relief scenes adorn the walls of the causeway. They show men hunting for lions, leopards and giraffes, boats transporting granite palm columns from Aswan, battles with Asian enemies, the transport of prisoners, and of course, the well known scene of starving natives. However, the meaning of this last scene is, if anything, less clear today then ever. It was originally believed that the scenes record the decline of this period, but new theories counter this assumption. Just south of the upper part of the causeway were two forty-five foot white limestone structures that at one time probably held long, slender wooden boats.

Scenes of Emaciated People Possibly Suffering from Famine

Scenes of Exotic Animals

Passing through the pink granite gateway that bears the name and title of Teti, one first enters the alabaster paved entrance hall. Here, one finds relief scenes depicting offering goods being delivered. After the entrance hall is the open courtyard. The ambulatory was supported by eighteen pink granite columns shaped as palms. These columns are no longer here, but some have survived by being reused in the Delta at modern Tanis, and in the Louvre and British Museums. Many of the reliefs are also gone, at least one showing up in Amenemhet I's pyramid complex in Lisht. To either side of the entrance hall and courtyard are storage annexes, where in the Late Period, large shaft tombs were also dug.

Ground Plan of the Pyramid of Unas (Unis) at Saqqara in Egypt

From here, several entrances led past the small cult pyramid and into the inner temple and a five niche chapel, though nothing remains of this. Also destroyed is the antechamber which led into the offering hall. But aside from a pink granite false door, little else remains of the offering hall. On the false door, a block of which is also in the Egyptian Antiquities Museum in Cairo, are inscriptions referring to the tutelary divinities protecting the residents of Nekhen and Buto. Around the offering hall are more storage annexes.

Unas had a long reign, perhaps as long as thirty years. Therefore, he had time to build a larger pyramid, but we believe that it was probably a time of decreasing wealth, so he limited the size of this building project. Around the whole pyramid, and a smaller cult pyramid, there was once a massive stone wall that was at least seven meters high. The core of the pyramid consists of six layers, with rough blocks of local limestone decreasing in size as the builders reached the top layer. The casing was of fine, white limestone, some of which remains on the very lowest levels. The plan of the substructure, as well as Unas' mortuary temple, is very similar to the Djedkare complex, with the original entrance under the north chapel.

The north chapel is now all but gone. It is a single room, and on its south wall next to the pyramid itself, there was an altar shaped in the hieroglyphic sign for a hetep (offering table). Behind the altar was a stela.

Inside, there are corridors leading to an antechamber and burial chamber, both of which originally had gabled ceilings. Corridors, the antechamber and burial chamber all painted on their ceilings yellow stars on a blue background. In both of the chambers, the Pyramid Text was written in bas-relief painted in a blue green on all but the west wall of the burial chamber. This color signifies the morning and the belief in rebirth. The west wall of the burial chamber was coated with a layer of alabaster that was painted white, black, yellow, blue and red, the five colors of the royal palace facade.
Little was found within the pyramid. There was once a canopic chest in the floor on the southeast corner of the sarcophagus. Bits and pieces of the king's mummy was found and parts of two small knives used during the Opening of the Mouth ceremony.


Original name: Perfect are the sites of Unas.
Original height: 43 m / 143 ft.
Base length: 57.5 m / 192 ft.
Angle of inclination: 56° 18' 35".
Date of construction: 5th dynasty.