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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, which were the concern only of royal burials, through the Coffin Texts of the Middle Kingdom, the several books in the New Kingdom and later times. With passing time access to these documents was extended to the noble classes, then the common population (those who could afford ritual burials).


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. The texts are derived in part from the earlier pyramid texts, but they contain substantial new material related to everyday desires that reflects the fact that the texts were now used by the common people. Because non-royal Egyptians who could afford to have a coffin now had access to these funerary spells, the pharaoh no longer had exclusive rights to the afterlife.[1][2]

New KingdomEdit

Late New KingdomEdit

  • Books of the Sky

After the Amarna Period, a new set of funerary texts began to be used.[3] 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. ^ Lichtheim (1975)
  2. ^ Goelet et al. (1994)
  3. ^ Hornung (1999), p.113

Further readingEdit

  • Goelet, Dr. Ogden; et al. (1994). The Egyptian Book of the Dead: The Book of Going Forth by Day. San Francisco: Chronicle Books.
  • Hornung, E; Lorton, D.(translator) (1999). The Ancient Egyptian Books of the Afterlife. New York: Cornell University Press.
  • Lichtheim, Miriam (1975). Ancient Egyptian Literature, vol 1. London, England: University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-02899-6.