Ancient Egyptian funerary texts

The literature that makes up the ancient Egyptian funerary texts is a collection of religious documents that were used in ancient Egypt, usually to help the spirit of the concerned person to be preserved in the afterlife.

They evolved over time, beginning with the Pyramid Texts in the Old Kingdom through the Coffin Texts of the Middle Kingdom and into several books, most famously the Book of the Dead, in the New Kingdom and later times.

Old KingdomEdit

The funerary texts of the Old Kingdom were initially reserved for the king only. Towards the end of the period, the texts appeared in the tombs of royal wives.

Middle KingdomEdit

These are a collection of ancient Egyptian funerary spells written on coffins beginning in the First Intermediate Period. Nearly half of the spells in the Coffin Texts derive from those in the Pyramid Texts.[1]

New KingdomEdit

Late New KingdomEdit

  • Books of the Sky

After the Amarna Period, a new set of funerary texts began to be used.[2] These centre on representations of Nut (goddess), the sky goddess. They represent the nighttime journey of the sun into and through her body, with her giving birth to the rejuvenated sun in the morning. From the tomb of Ramesses IV onwards two of these Books of the Sky were usually placed next to each other on the ceiling of royal tombs.

Late PeriodEdit



  1. ^ Smith 2017, p. 193
  2. ^ Hornung 1999, p.113

Further readingEdit

  • Forman, Werner; Quirke, Stephen (1996). Hieroglyphs and the Afterlife in Ancient Egypt. University of Oklahoma Press. ISBN 978-0-8061-2751-4.
  • Goelet, Jr., Ogden; Faulkner, Raymond O.; Andrews, Carol A. R.; Gunther, J. Daniel; Wasserman, James (2015). The Egyptian Book of the Dead: The Book of Going forth by Day, Twentieth Anniversary Edition. Chronicle Books. ISBN 978-1-4521-4438-2.
  • Hornung, E; Lorton, D.(translator) (1999). The Ancient Egyptian Books of the Afterlife. New York: Cornell University Press. {{cite book}}: |author2= has generic name (help)
  • Lichtheim, Miriam (1975). Ancient Egyptian Literature, vol 1. London, England: University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-02899-6.
  • Smith, Mark (2017). Following Osiris: Perspectives on the Osirian Afterlife from Four Millennia. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-958222-8.