In this chapter are given short notices of a series of works
which the limits of this book make it impossible to describe
at greater length.
I. The Book of the Two Ways.—This is a very ancient
funerary work, which is found written in cursive hieroglyphs
upon coffins of the eleventh and twelfth dynasties, of which
many fine examples are to be seen in the British Museum.
The object of the work is to provide the souls of the dead
with a guide that will enable them, when they leave this
world, to make a successful journey across the Tuat, i.e. the
Other World or Dead Land, to the region where Osiris lived
and ruled over the blessed dead. The work describes the
roads that must be travelled over, and names the places
where opposition is to be expected, and supplies the deceased
with the words of power which he is to utter when in difficulties.
The abode of the blessed dead could be reached
either by water or by land, and the book affords the information
necessary for journeying thither by either route. The
sections of the book are often accompanied by coloured
vignettes, which illustrate them, and serve as maps of the
various regions of the Other World, and describe the exact
positions of the streams and canals that have to be crossed,
and the Islands of the Blest, and the awful country of blazing
fire and boiling water in which the bodies, souls, and
spirits of the wicked were destroyed.
II. The Book "Am Tuat," or Guide to him that is in the Tuat.—This Book has much in common with the Book of the Two Ways. According to it, the region that lay between this world and the realm of Osiris was divided into ten parts, which were traversed, once each night, by the Sun-god in the form which he took during the night. At the western end was a sort of vestibule, through which the god passed from the day sky into the Tuat, and at the eastern end was another vestibule, through which he passed on leaving the Tuat to re-enter the day sky. The two vestibules were places of gloom and semi-darkness, and the ten divisions of the Tuat were covered by black night. When the Sun-god set in the west in the evening he was obliged to travel through the Tuat to the eastern sky, in order to rise again on this earth on the following day. He entered the Tuat at or near Thebes, proceeded northwards, through the under-worlds of Thebes, Abydos, Herakleopolis, Memphis, and Saīs, then turned towards the east and crossed the Delta, and, having passed through the underworld of Heliopolis, appeared in the eastern sky to resume his daily course from east to west. His journey so far as Memphis he made in a boat, which sailed on the river of the Tuat. At Memphis he left the boat on the river, and entered a magical boat formed of a serpent's body, and so passed under the mountainous district round about Sakkārah. At or near Saīs he returned to his river boat, and sailing over the great marine lakes of the Delta reached Heliopolis. The sun-god was guided through each section of the Tuat by a goddess who belonged to the district, and for the sake of uniformity the journey through each section was supposed to occupy an hour; the guiding goddess left the god's boat at the end of her hour, and the goddess of the next section took her place. The path of the god was lighted by fire, which the beings who lived in the various sections poured out of their mouths, and the attendant gods who were with them in his boat spake words of power, which overcame all opposition and removed every obstacle. As he passed through each section it was temporarily lighted up by the fire already mentioned, and he uttered words of power, the effect of which was to supply the inhabitants of the section with air, food, and drink, sufficient to last until the next night, when he would renew the supply. Many parts of the Tuat were filled with hideous monsters in human and animal forms, and with evil spirits of every kind, but they were all rendered powerless by the spells uttered by the gods who were in attendance on the Sun-god in his boat. At one time in the history of Egypt it became the earnest wish of every pious man to make the journey from this world to the next in the Boat of the Sun. Armed with words of power and amulets of all kinds, and relying on their lives of moral rectitude, and the effect of the offerings which they had made to the dead, their souls entered the Boat, and set out on their journey. When they reached Abydos their credentials were examined, and those who were found to be speakers of the truth and upright in their actions were allowed to continue their journey with the Sun-god, and to live with him ever after. Some souls preferred to remain at Abydos and to live with Osiris, and those who were found righteous in the Judgment were allowed to do so, and were granted estates in perpetuity in the kingdom of this god. The Book "Am Tuat" describes the sections of the Tuat and their inhabitants, and supplies all the information which the soul was supposed to require in passing from this world to the next. Many copies of certain sections of it are known, and some of these are in the British Museum; the most complete copy of it is in the tomb of Seti I at Thebes.
 See the massive stone sarcophagi of Nectonebus exhibited in the Southern Egyptian Gallery of the British Museum.
III. The Book of Gates.—This book was also written to
be a Guide to the Tuat, and has much in common with the
Book of the Two Ways and with the Book Am Tuat. In
it also the Tuat is divided into ten sections and has two
vestibules, the Eastern and the Western, but at the entrance
to each section is a strongly fortified Gate, guarded by a
monster serpent-god and by the gods of the section. The
Sun-god of night, as in the Book Am Tuat, makes his journey
in a boat, and is attended by a number of gods, who remove
all opposition from his path by the use of words of power.
As he approaches each Gate, its doors are thrown open by
the gods who guard them, and he passes into the section of
the Tuat behind it, carrying with him light, air, and food
for its inhabitants. The Book of Gates embodies the teaching
of the priests of the cult of Osiris, and the Book Am Tuat
represents the modified form of it that was promulgated
by the priests of Amen. From the Book of Gates we derive
much information about the realm of Osiris, and the Great
Judgment of souls, which took place in his Hall of Judgment
once a day at midnight. Then all the souls that had collected
during the past twenty-four hours from all parts of Egypt
were weighed in the Balance; the righteous were allotted
estates in perpetuity in the "land of souls," and the wicked
were destroyed by Shesmu, the executioner of the god, and
by his assistants. The texts that describe the various
"Gates" of the Book of Gates, explain who are the beings
represented in the pictures, and state why they were there.
And the Book proves conclusively that the Egyptians believed
in the efficacy of sacrifices and offerings, and in the
doctrine of righteous retribution; liars and deceivers were
condemned, and their bodies, souls, spirits, doubles, and
names destroyed, and the righteous were rewarded for their
upright lives and integrity upon earth by the gift of everlasting
life and happiness. The most complete copy of
this interesting work in England is cut on the alabaster
sarcophagus of Seti I, about 1350 B.C. This unique sepulchral
monument is exhibited gratis in Sir John Soane's
Museum at 13 Lincoln's Inn Fields, and every student of
the religion of the Egyptians should examine it.
IV. The Ritual of Embalmment.—Two important fragments
of a copy of this work are preserved in the Museum
of the Louvre (No. 5158), and a part of another in the Egyptian
Museum, Cairo (No. 3); the former copy was written
for a priest of Amen called Heru, and the latter for a priest
called Hetra. These fragments of the work describe minutely
the process of mummifying certain parts of a human body,
and state what materials were employed by the embalmer.
Moreover, it gives the texts of the magical and religious
spells that were ordered to be recited by the priest who superintended
the embalmment, the effect of which was to "make
divine" each member of the body, and to secure for it the
protecting influence of the god or goddess who presided over
it. The following extract refers to the embalming of the
head: "Then anoint the head of the deceased and all his
mouth with oil, both the head and the face, and wrap it in
the bandages of Harmakhis in Hebit. The bandage of the
goddess Nekhebet shall be put on the forehead, the bandage
of Hathor in Heliopolis on the face, the bandage of Thoth
on the ears, and the bandage of Nebt-hetepet on the back
of the neck. All the coverings of the head and all the strips
of linen used in fastening them shall be taken from sheets
of linen that have been examined as to quality and texture
in the presence of the inspector of the mysteries. On the
head of the deceased shall be the bandage of Sekhmet, beloved
of Ptah, in two pieces. On the two ears two bandages
called the "Complete." On the nostrils two bandages
called "Nehai" and "Smen." On the cheeks two bandages
called "He shall live." On the forehead four pieces of linen
called the "shining ones." On the skull two pieces called
"The two Eyes of Rā in their fullness." On the two sides
of the face and ears twenty-two pieces. As to the mouth
two inside, and two out. On the chin two pieces. On the
back of the neck four large pieces. Then tie the whole head
firmly with a strip of linen two fingers wide, and anoint a
second time, and then fill up all the crevices with the oil
already mentioned. Then say, "O august goddess, Lady
of the East, Mistress of the West, come and enter into the
two ears of Osiris. O mighty goddess, who art ever young,
O great one, Lady of the East, Mistress of the West, let there
be breathing in the head of the deceased in the Tuat. Let
him see with his eyes, hear with his ears, breathe with his
nose, pronounce with his mouth, and speak with his tongue
in the Tuat. Accept his voice in the Hall of Truth, and let
him be proved to have been a speaker of the truth in the
Hall of Keb, in the presence of the Great God, the Lord of
V. The Ritual of the Divine Cult.—This title is commonly
given to a work consisting of sixty-six chapters,
which were recited daily by the high priest of Amen-Rā,
the King of the Gods, in his temple at Thebes, during the
performance of a series of ceremonies of a highly important
and symbolical character. The text of this Ritual is found
cut in hieroglyphs on the walls of the temple of Seti I at
Abydos, and written in hieratic upon papyri preserved in
the Imperial Museum in Berlin. The work was originally
intended to be recited by the king himself daily, but it was
soon found that the Lord of Egypt could not spare the time
necessary for its recital each day, and he therefore was personified
by the high priest of each temple in which the Ritual
was performed. The object of the Ritual was to place the
king in direct contact with his god Amen-Rā once a day.
The king was an incarnation of Amen-Rā, and ruled Egypt
as the representative upon earth of the god. He drew his
power and wisdom direct from the god, and it was believed
that these required renewal daily. To bring about this
renewal of the divine spirit in the god's vicegerent upon
earth, the king entered the temple in the early morning,
and performed ceremonies and recited formulæ that purified
both the and himself. He then advanced to
the shrine, which contained a small gilded wooden figure of
the god, inlaid with precious stones and provided with a
movable head, arms, and legs, and opened it and knelt down
before the figure. He performed further ceremonies of purification,
and finally took the figure of the god in his arms
and embraced it. During this embrace the divine power
of Amen-Rā, which was in the gilded figure at that moment,
passed into the body of the king, and the divine power and
wisdom, which were in the king as the god's representative,
were renewed. The king then closed the doors of the shrine
and left the sanctuary for a short time. When he returned
he opened the shrine again, and made adoration to the god,
and presented a series of offerings that symbolised Truth.
After this the king dressed the figure of the god in sacred
apparel, and decorated it. Then, having performed further
acts of worship before it, he closed the doors of the shrine,
sealed them with mud seals, and left the sanctuary.
VI. The Book "May my Name Flourish".—This was a
very popular funerary work in the Roman Period. It is a
development of a long prayer that is found in the Pyramid
Texts, and was written by the priests and used as a spell to
make the name of the deceased flourish eternally in heaven
and on the earth. Many copies of it, written on narrow strips
of papyrus, are preserved in the British Museum.
VII. The Book of Āapep, the great enemy of the Sun-god.—Āapep
was the god of evil, who became incarnate in
many forms, especially in wild and savage animals and in
monster serpents and venomous reptiles of every kind. He
was supposed to take the form of a huge serpent and to lie
in wait near the portals of the dawn daily, so that he might
swallow up the sun as he was about to rise in the eastern
sky. He was accompanied by legions of devils and fiends,
red and black, and by all the powers of storm, tempest,
hurricane, whirlwind, thunder and lightning, and he was
the deadly foe of all order, both physical and moral, and of
all good in heaven and in earth. At certain times during
the day and night the priests in the temple of Amen-Rā
recited a series of chapters, and performed a number of
magical ceremonies, which were intended to strengthen
the arms of the Sun-god, and give him power to overcome
the resistance of Āapep. These chapters acted on Āapep
as spells, and they paralysed the monster just as he was about
to attack the Sun-god. The god then approached and shot
his fiery darts into him, and his attendant gods hacked the
monster's body to pieces, which shrivelled up under the
burning heat of the rays of the Sun-god, and all the devils
and fiends of darkness fled shrieking in terror at their leader's
fate. The sun then rose on this world, and all the stars and
spirits of the morning and all the gods of heaven sang for
joy. The complete text of this book is found in a long
papyrus dated in the reign of Alexander II in the British
Museum (No. 10,188).
VIII. The Instructions, or Precepts of Tuauf to his son
Pepi.—Two copies of this work, which has also been called
a "Hymn in praise of learning," are contained in a papyri
preserved in the British Museum (Sallier II and Anastasi
VII). These "Instructions" in reality represent the advice
of a father to his son, whom he was sending to school to be
trained for the profession of the scribe. Whether the boy
was merely sorry to leave his home, or whether he disliked
the profession which his father had chosen for him, is not
clear, but from first to last the father urges him to apply
himself to the pursuit of learning, which, in his opinion,
is the foundation of all great and lasting success. He says,
"I have compared the people who are artisans and handicraftsmen
[with the scribe], and indeed I am convinced that
there is nothing superior to letters. Plunge into the study
of Egyptian Learning, as thou wouldst plunge into the river,
and thou wilt find that this is so. I would that thou wouldst
love Learning as thou lovest thy mother. I wish I were able
to make thee to see how beautiful Learning is. It is more
important than any trade in the world. Learning is not a
mere phrase, for the man who devoteth himself thereto from
his youth is honoured, and he is despatched on missions. I
have watched the blacksmith at the door of his furnace.
His hands are like crocodiles' hide, and he stinketh worse than
fishes' eggs. The metal worker hath no more rest than the
peasant on the farm. The stone mason—at the end of the
day his arms are powerless; he sitteth huddled up together
until the morning, and his knees and back are broken. The
barber shaveth until far into the night, he only resteth when
he eateth. He goeth from one street to another looking for
work. He breaketh his arms to fill his belly, and, like the
bees, he eateth his own labour. The builder of houses doeth
his work with difficulty; he is exposed to all weathers, and
he must cling to the walls which he is building like a creeping
plant. His clothes are in a horrible state, and he washeth
his body only once a day. The farmer weareth always the
same clothes. His voice is like the croak of a bird, his skin
is cracked by the wind; if he is healthy his health is that of
the beasts. If he be ill he lieth down among them, and he
sleepeth on the damp irrigated land. The envoy to foreign
lands bequeatheth his property to his children before he
setteth out, being afraid that he will be killed either by wild
beasts of the desert or by the nomads therein. When he is
in Egypt, what then? No sooner hath he arrived at home
than he is sent off on another mission. As for the dyer, his
fingers stink like rotten fish, and his clothes are absolutely
horrors. The shoemaker is a miserable wretch. He is
always asking for work, and his health is that of a dying fish.
The washerman is neighbour to the crocodile. His food is
mixed up with his clothes, and every member of him is
unclean. The catcher of water-fowl, even though he dive
in the Nile, may catch nothing. The trade of the fisherman
is the worst of all. He is in blind terror of the crocodile,
and falleth among crocodiles." The text continues with a
few further remarks on the honourable character of the profession
of the scribe, and ends with a series of Precepts of
the same character as those found in the works of Ptah-hetep
and the scribe Ani, from which extracts have already been
IX. Medical Papyri.—The Egyptians possessed a good
practical knowledge of the anatomy of certain parts of the
human body, but there is no evidence that they practised
dissection before the arrival of the Greeks in Egypt. The
medical papyri that have come down to us contain a large
number of short, rough-and-ready descriptions of certain
diseases, and prescriptions of very great interest. The
most important medical papyrus known is that which was
bought at Luxor by the late Professor Ebers in 1872-3, and
which is now preserved in Leipzig. This papyrus is about
65 feet long, and the text is written in the hieratic character.
It was written in the ninth year of the reign of a king who
is not yet satisfactorily identified, but who probably lived
before the period of the rule of the eighteenth dynasty,
perhaps about 1800 B.C. A short papyrus in the British
Museum contains extracts from it, and other papyri with
somewhat similar contents are preserved in the Museums of
Paris, Leyden, Berlin, and California.
X. Magical Papyri.—The widespread use of magic in Egypt in all ages suggests that the magical literature of Egypt must have been very large. Much of it was incorporated at a very early period into the Religious Literature of the country, and was used for legitimate purposes, in fact for the working of what we call "white magic." The Egyptian saw no wrong in the working of magic, and it was only condemned by him when the magician wished to produce evil results. The gods themselves were supposed to use spells and incantations, and every traveller by land or water carried with him magical formulæ which he recited when he was in danger from the wild beasts of the desert or the crocodile of the river and its canals. Specimens of these will be found in the famous magical papyri in the British Museum, e.g. the Salt Papyrus, the Rhind Papyrus, and the Harris Papyrus. Under this heading may be mentioned Papyrus Sallier IV in the British Museum, which contains a list of lucky and unlucky days. Here is a specimen of its contents:
1st day of Hathor. The whole day is lucky. There is festival in heaven with Rā and Hathor.
2nd day of Hathor. The whole day is lucky. The gods go out. The goddess Uatchet comes from Tep to the gods who are in the shrine of the bull, in order to protect the divine members.
3rd day of Hathor. The whole day is lucky.
4th day of Hathor. The whole day is unlucky. The house of the man who goes on a voyage on that day comes to ruin.
6th day of Hathor. The whole day is unlucky. Do not light a fire in thy house on this day, and do not look at one.
18th day of Pharmuthi. The whole day is unlucky. Do not bathe on this day.
20th day of Pharmuthi. The whole day is unlucky. Do not work on this day.
22nd day of Pharmuthi. The whole day is unlucky. He who is born on this day will die on this day.
23rd day of Pharmuthi. The first two-thirds of the day are unlucky, and the last third lucky.
XI. Legal Documents.—The first legal document written
in Egypt was the will of Rā, in which he bequeathed all his
property and the inheritance of the throne of Egypt to his
first-born son Horus. Tradition asserted that this Will was
preserved in the Library of the Sun-god in Heliopolis. The
inscriptions contain many allusions to the Laws of Egypt,
but no document containing any connected statement of
them has come down to us. In the great inscription of
Heruemheb, the last king of the eighteenth dynasty, a large
number of good laws are given, but it must be confessed that
as a whole the administration of the Law in many parts of
Egypt must always have been very lax. Texts relating to
bequests, endowments, grants of land, &c., are very difficult
to translate, because it is well-nigh impossible to find equivalents
for Egyptian legal terms. In the British Museum are
two documents in hieratic that were drawn up in connection
with prosecutions which the Government of Egypt undertook
of certain thieves who had broken into some of the royal
tombs at Thebes and robbed them, and of certain other
thieves who had robbed the royal treasury and made away
with a large amount of silver (Nos. 10,221, 10,052, 10,053,
and 10,054). Equally interesting is the roll that describes
the prosecution of certain highly placed officials and relations
of Rameses III who had conspired against him and wanted
to kill him. Several of the conspirators were compelled to
commit suicide. The text is written in hieratic on papyrus,
and is preserved in the Royal Museum, Leyden.
XII. Historical Romances.—Examples of these are the
narrative of the capture of the town of Joppa in Palestine
by an officer of Thothmes III, and the history of the dispute
that broke out between Seqenenrā, King of Upper Egypt,
and Āapepi, King of Avaris in the Delta. These are written
in hieratic and are preserved in the British Museum, in
Harris Papyrus 500, and Sallier No. 1 (10,185).
XIII. Mathematics.—The chief source of our knowledge
of the Mathematics of the Egyptians is the Rhind Papyrus
in the British Museum (No. 10,057), which was written before
1700 B.C., probably during the reign of one of the Hyksos
kings. The papyrus contains a number of simple arithmetical
examples and several geometrical problems. The
workings out of these prove that the Egyptian spared himself
no trouble in making his calculations, and that he worked
out both his arithmetical examples and problems in the most
cumbrous and laborious way possible. He never studied
mathematics in order to make progress in his knowledge of
the science, but simply for purely practical everyday work;
as long as his knowledge enabled him to obtain results which
he knew from experience were substantially correct he was
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Birch, S.—Egyptian Texts from the Coffin of Amamu. London, 1886.
Egyptian Hieratic Papyrus of Rameses III. London, 1876.
Breasted, J.H.—Ancient Records—Egypt. Chicago, 1906.
Brugsch, H.—Sieben Jahre der Hungersnoth. Leipzig, 1891.
Inscriptio Rosettana. Berlin, 1851.
Neue Weltordnung. Berlin, 1881.
Reise nach der grossen Oase. Leipzig, 1878.
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