The sacred symbol of the Djed pillar

The sacred symbol of the Djed pillar


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Hieroglyphics play an important role in understanding ancient Egyptian culture. One of the most commonly found and mysterious hieroglyphic symbols is known as the djed symbol. With the appearance of a pillar and three or more cross bars, there have been several theories as to the meaning of this enigmatic symbol, and what it represented to the ancient Egyptians who used it so frequently.

The djed symbol has the appearance of a vertical shaft or pillar. It usually had four horizontal bars near the top, with a series of vertical lines between each bar. It also had four bands around the neck of the shaft, beneath the first of the horizontal bars. Sometimes it is topped with a capital.

A djed pillar (center) on a glazed steatite pectoral (1070 – 703 BC). ( Wikimedia)

Many believe the djed is a symbol of the god Osiris, specifically, his spine. According to Egyptian mythology, Osiris was the god of the afterlife. While visiting Set, the god of disorder, desert, storms, and violence, Osiris was tricked into climbing into a coffin that was built exactly to his size. He was quickly suffocated, and the coffin was cast into the Nile. Eventually, the coffin washed up on the shores of Byblos, in Syria. A sacred tree grew rapidly around the coffin, encasing the coffin within its trunk. The king of the land, unaware of the presence of the coffin, was in awe of the tree’s quick growth, and he ordered it cut down to become a pillar in his palace. All the while, Osiris’ wife Isis had been searching for him. She came to learn that his body was contained inside the pillar. She became close with the king and queen, and when they granted her a boon, she requested the pillar. Upon being granted the pillar, she removed Osiris’ body, and consecrated the pillar. It has since been called the pillar of the djed.

The sun disk of the god Ra is raised into the sky by an ankh-sign (signifying life) and a djed-pillar (signifying stability and the god Osiris) while adored by Isis, Nephthys, and baboons. The motif symbolizes rebirth and the sunrise. ( Wikimedia)

According to others, the djed is a fertility pillar made from or surrounded by reeds, trees, or sheaves. As Egypt was a treeless land, this may represent the importance of the trees that were imported from Syria. This also ties in with the story of Osiris, where his body was encased within the trunk of a tree. Other accounts associate the djed with the falcon god of the Memphite necropolis, Seker, then with the Memphite patron god of craftsmen Ptah. Ptah is sometimes referred to as “the noble djed.” The djed symbol is also sometimes viewed as a pillar supporting the sky. In a palace, the pillars may surround a window, and when viewed from the right angle, it appears that the pillars are supporting the sky.

Stucco relief of Ptah holding a staff that bears the combined ankh and djed symbols. Late Period or Ptolemaic Dynasty, 4th to 3rd century BC. ( Wikipedia)

The djed symbol is also used in a ceremony called “raising the djed.” This ceremony is meant to represent Osiris’ triumph over Set. During the ceremony, the pharaoh uses ropes to raise a pillar, with the assistance of priests. This coincided with the time of year when the agricultural year began and fields were sown. This was just one part of a 17-day holiday of festivals dedicated to Osiris. Overall, the raising the djed ceremony represented both the resurrection of Osiris, and the strength and stability of the monarch.

Raising the Djed pillar, Temple of Seti I, Abydos, Egypt ( Wikimedia)

The djed has also been used as an amulet, placed near the spines of mummified bodies, and the image painted on their coffin. The amulet was intended to allow the deceased to live eternally, and to ensure their resurrection. The Egyptian Book of the Dead contains a spell that would be spoken as the amulet was placed on the mummy, in hopes that it would allow the deceased to sit up and regain use of their spine. In addition, it was often seen in hieroglyphic inscriptions and even as part of architectural structures. Its ubiquitous appearance gives the impression that this symbol was both important and sacred in ancient Egyptian belief systems.

The djed symbol seen in hieroglyphic inscription at Deir el-Bahri. Credit: Kyera Giannini / flickr

Featured image: A scene on the west wall of the Osiris Hall that is situated beyond the seven chapels and entered via the Osiris Chapel. It shows the raising of the Djed pillar. ( Wikimedia)

Sources:

The Concept of the Djed Symbol – Pyramid of Man. Available from: http://www.pyramidofman.com/Djed/

Egypt: The Djed Pillar – Tour Egypt. Available from: http://www.touregypt.net/featurestories/djedpillar.htm

The Djed – Wikipedia. Available from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Djed

By M R Reese


Accession number: 3718
Measurements: Length: 3.93 cm Width: 1.47 cm Thickness: 0.81 cm
Material: Egyptian Faience
Date: Late Period, ca. 664-332 BCE
Provenance: Thebes, Egypt
Collection: Mendes Israel Cohen Collection of Egyptian Antiquities, number 165

Description (3718)

This djed-pillar amulet is made of a bright blue faience with large sections of a brownish-purple colorant throughout. A suspension bar has been included at the top of the djed-pillar, which is slightly lopsided.

Description (1991-1)

This faience djed-pillar has been rendered with great care and a high level of incised detail. A very small hole is pierced through the top of its back-pillar horizontally for suspension.

Description

This symbol was Osirian in nature and was primarily associated with themes of rebirth and regeneration. According to legend, Osiris, the king of the ancient Egyptian pantheon, was murdered by his brother, Seth, the god of chaos. After his passing, his consort, Isis, and son, Horus, revived the god so that he could serve as the chief deity of the netherworld. The djed-pillar was designed as a symbol of Osiris and later came to be understood as a representation of his backbone. In fact, in several Book of the Dead spells, representations of the symbol are used to help reinstate the vertebrae of the deceased and consequently revive them for his or her rebirth into the afterlife. When worn as an amulet, the symbol helped to invoke the regenerative powers of Osiris. The djed-pillar also served as a common hieroglyphic symbol, representing the ancient Egyptian word for “stability.”

As one of the most common Egyptian amulets, djed-pillar amulets have a long history, dating back to the late Old Kingdom (ca. 2686-2160 BCE). Due to their Osirian associations and powers, djed-pillar amulets were most frequently used in funerary contexts. The amulets were often strung together and laid across the lower torso of a mummy, especially in the later periods of ancient Egyptian history, and also around the neck. Green and blue — as seen in these examples — are the most commonly attested colors of these amulets, enhancing the regenerative powers of the amulets through their connection with the fertility and renewal provided by the Nile and its vegetation.

References

Andrews, Carol, 1994. Amulets of Ancient Egypt. Austin: University of Texas. 18.

Meeks, Dimitri, 1996. “Hierarchies, Prerogatives, Groups.” In Daily Life of the Egyptian Gods, edited by Dimitri Meeks and Christine Favard-Meeks, translated by G.M. Goshgarian. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press. 33-52.

Te Velde, H., 1971. “Some Remarks on the Structure of Egyptian Divine Triads.” The Journal of Egyptian Archaeology 57. 80–86.


Djed – History and Origins

The Djed has been a part of Egyptian mythology and hieroglyphics for as far back in time as we can track – at least 5,000 years and more. It is believed to have originally been developed as a fertility cult. Because the pillar shape of the cult can also represent a tree, and because of the mythology surrounding the symbol, this hypothesis seems more than likely. In its physical representations, the symbol was likely made as a totem out of reeds and sheaves.

According to psychologist Erich Neumann, the totem was likely a tree fetish at first which is very understandable for a desert-dwelling culture like the ancient Egyptians. The Djet’s evolution into a symbol of stability is also logical from there, as high fertility in vegetation was vital precisely for the stability it brought to the region.

The Djed is also believed to have been associated with the human backbone, itself also a symbol of stability. This also connects the Djed to fertility as ancient Egyptians believed men’s seed came from the spine.

As an ancient symbol, the Djed also made its way into Egyptian myths. These are what archeologists and historians typically analyze to derive its origins. It was initially used as the symbol of god Ptah who was also called the “Noble Djed”.

In later Egyptian mythology, the Djed became tied to the Osiris myth. In it, Set killed Osiris by tricking him to lay in a coffin made to perfectly fit him. After Set trapped Osiris in the coffin and the latter died, Set flung the coffin into the Nile. From there, according to the myth, the coffin went into the Mediterranean Sea and washed up on the shores of Lebanon.

As the coffin with Osiris’ body went to ground, a powerful tree grew rapidly out of it, enclosing the coffin within its trunk. Lebanon’s king was intrigued by the tree, so he cut it down, turned it into a pillar, and installed it into his palace with Osiris’ body still inside the pillar.

Years later, as Isis was still searching for the lost Osiris with the help of Anubis, she found out about Osiris’ presence in Lebanon. She came into the Lebanon king’s favor and was granted a boon of her choosing. Naturally, she chose the pillar and her wish was granted. Back in Egypt, Isis extracted the coffin from the pillar, consecrated the tree’s remains, anointed it with myrrh, and wrapped it in linen. According to the myths, that pillar became the symbol Djed.

While this is just a religious myth, it neatly ties the symbol Djed both to its origins as a tree cult and to its frequent use as a “pillar of stability”.


Ptah and Sekhmet

Ptah, the patron god of arts and craftsmen, is often paired with the goddess Sekhmet as his consort/wife. It was believed that the two deities gave birth to the youthful deity called Nefertem (Nefertum- the Lotus god). All in all, those three deities make up the Memphite Triad of gods – a widely worshiped trio in the ancient city of Memphis.

In some accounts, his wife was rather Bast (Bastet), the Egyptian goddess of domestic cats or lionesses. From that union, the lion-headed god Maahes was born.


Djed: Ancient Egyptian Symbol of Stability

The Djed is a pillar-like symbol in Egyptian hieroglyphs representing stability. It is associated with the creator god Ptah and Osiris, the Egyptian god of the afterlife, the underworld, and the dead. It is commonly understood to represent his spine.

In the Osiris myth, Osiris was killed by Set by being tricked into a coffin made to fit Osiris exactly. Set then had the coffin with the now-deceased Osiris flung into the Nile.

The coffin was carried by the Nile to the ocean and on to the city of Byblos in Lebanon. It ran aground and a sacred tree took root and rapidly grew around the coffin, enclosing the coffin within its trunk. The king of the land, intrigued by the tree’s quick growth, ordered the tree cut down and installed as a pillar in his palace, unaware that the tree contained Osiris’s body.

Meanwhile, Isis searched for Osiris aided by Anubis and came to know of Osiris’s location in Byblos. Isis maneuvered herself into the favor of the king and queen and was granted a boon. She asked for the pillar in the palace hall, and upon being granted it, extracted the coffin from the pillar. She then consecrated the pillar, anointing it with myrrh and wrapping it in linen. This pillar came to be known as the pillar of Djed.

Origin and development

The Djed may originally have been a fertility cult-related pillar made from reeds or sheaves or a totem from which sheaves of grain were suspended or grain was piled around.

Erich Neumann remarks that the Djed pillar is a tree fetish, which is significant considering that Egypt was primarily treeless. He indicates that the myth may represent the importance of the importation of trees by Egypt from Syria.

The Djed came to be associated with Seker, the falcon god of the Memphite Necropolis, then with Ptah, the Memphite patron god of craftsmen. Ptah was often referred to as “the noble djed“, and carried a scepter that was a combination of the Djed symbol and the ankh, the symbol of life. Ptah gradually came to be assimilated into Osiris. By the time of the New Kingdom, the Djed was firmly associated with Osiris.

In their 2004 book The Quick and the Dead: Biomedical Theory in Ancient Egypt, Andrew Hunt Gordon, and Calvin W. Schwabe speculated that the ankh, djed, and was symbols have a biological basis derived from ancient cattle culture (linked to the Egyptian belief that semen was created in the spine), thus:

  • the ankh, symbol of life, the thoracic vertebra of a bull (seen in cross-section)
  • the djed, symbol of stability, base on the sacrum of a bull’s spine
  • the was-sceptre, symbol of power and dominion, a staff featuring the head and tail of the god Set, “great of strength

Hieroglyphic usage

The djed hieroglyph was a pillar-like symbol that represented stability. It was also sometimes used to represent Osiris himself, often combined “with a pair of eyes between the crossbars and holding the crook and flail.

The djed hieroglyph is often found together with the tyet (also known as Isis knot) hieroglyph, which is translated as life or welfare. The djed and the tyet used together may depict the duality of life. The tyet hieroglyph may have become associated with Isis because of its frequent pairing with the djed.

Ceremonial usage

The djed was an important part of the ceremony called “raising the djed“, which was a part of the celebrations of the Sed festival, the Egyptian jubilee celebration. The act of raising the djed has been explained as representing Osiris’s triumph over Seth.

Ceremonies in Memphis are described where the pharaoh, with the help of the priests, raised a wooden djed column using ropes. The ceremony took place during the period when fields were sown and the year’s agricultural season would begin, corresponding to the month of Koiak, the fourth month of the Season of the Inundation.

This ceremony was a part of one of the more popular holidays and celebrations of the time, a larger festival dedicated to Osiris conducted from the 13th to 30th day of the Koiak. Celebrated as it was at that time of the year when the soil and climate were most suitable for agriculture, the festival and its ceremonies can be seen as an appeal to Osiris, who was the God of vegetation, to favor the growth of the seeds sown, paralleling his own resurrection and renewal after his murder by Seth.

Further celebrations surrounding the raising of the djed are described in a relief in Amenhotep III’s Luxor Temple. In the tomb in the temple, the scene shows the raising of the djed pillar taking place in the morning of Amenhotep III’s third Sed festival, which took place in his thirty-seventh regnal year. The scene is described by Sigrid Hodel-Hoenes:

The anthropomorphized pillar stands at the middle left, in a shrine. It has taken the shape of a human body with the djed-pillar as its head the eyes are udjat-eyes. The hands hold the crook and flail, the usual insignia of Osiris, the god of the dead. On its head is the tall feather crown with the solar disk. The pillar is on a high base reminiscent of the platforms visible today in many temples, on which the cult barks once stood. In front of and behind it are lotus and papyrus blossoms. Beneath the large slab of the base are two tall offering stands – one bears a libation vessel, while flowers have been laid on the other. To the right is the king himself, presenting a generously laid table. Fowl, cucumbers, blossoms, breads, and heads and ribs of beef are all lying on the upper mat, while a cow and an antelope can be seen on the lower one. Beneath these mats are four tall vessels containing unguents and oil, with bundles of lettuce sticking out among them. The vulture goddess, Wadjyt, the Mistress of the Per-nu shrine, has spread her protective wings above the sovereign, with the blue crown on his head. — Sigrid Hodel-Hoenes, Life and death in ancient Egypt

Usage as amulets

The djed pillar was often used as amulets for the living and the dead. It was placed as an amulet near the spines of mummified bodies, which was supposed to ensure the resurrection of the dead, allowing the deceased to live eternally.

The Egyptian Book of the Dead lists a spell which when spoken over a gold amulet hung around the mummy’s neck, ensures that the mummy would regain use of its spine and be able to sit up. It was also painted onto coffins.

Parallels in other cultures

Parallels have also been drawn between the djed pillar and various items in other cultures. Sidney Smith in 1922, first suggested a parallel with the Assyrian “sacred tree” when he drew attention to the presence of the upper four bands of the djed pillar and the bands that are present in the center of the vertical portion of the tree. He also proposed a common origin between Osiris and the Assyrian god Assur with whom he said, the sacred tree might be associated.

Cohen and Kangas suggest that the tree is probably associated with the Sumerian god of male fertility, Enki and that for both Osiris and Enki, an erect pole or polelike symbol stands beneath a celestial symbol. They also point out that the Assyrian king is depicted in proximity to the sacred tree, which is similar to the depiction of the pharaoh in the raising of the djed ceremony.

Additionally, the sacred tree and the Assyrian winged disk, which are generally depicted separately, are combined in certain designs, similar to the djed pillar which is sometimes surmounted with a solar disk.

Katherine Harper and Robert Brown also discuss a possible strong link between the djed column and the concept of kundalini in yoga.

*This article uses material from the Wikipedia article Djed, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License 3.0 (view authors)


5- ‘Was’ Symbol

The ‘Was Sceptre’ was one of the most important Egyptian Symbols Was scepter was the symbol of power in ancient Egyptian culture also represented the dominion of gods and According to what the ancient Egyptians believe it also ensured the continuance of a king’s prosperity, The ‘Was Sceptre’ has a straight shaft, a crooked handle in the shape of an animal head and a forked base The crooked top of the staff mirrors the strange animal shape of Set’s own head.


The sacred symbol of the Djed pillar - History

The Ankh is defined as: The symbolic representation of both Physical and Eternal life.

It is known as the original cross, which is a powerful symbol that was first created by Africans in Ancient Egypt.

The Ankh is commonly known to mean life in the language of Ancient Kemet (land of the Blacks) renamed Egypt by the Greeks. It is also a symbol for the power to give and sustain life, the Ankh is typically associated with material things such as water(which was believed by Egyptians to regenerate life), air, sun, as well as with the Gods, who are frequently pictured carrying an Ankh.

The Egyptian king is often associated with the Ankh also, either in possession of an Ankh (providing life to his people) or being given an Ankh (or stream of Ankhs) by the Gods. This can be seen in the picture of King Senworsert below who is holding two Ankhs to his chest.

There are numerous examples that have been found that were made from metal, clay and wood.

It was often worn as an amulet to extent the life of living and placed on the mummy to energize the resurrected spirit.

The Gods and the Kings are often shown carrying the Ankh to distinguish them from mere mortals.

The Ankh symbolized eternal life and bestowed immortality on anyone who possessed it.

It is believed that life energy emanating from the Ankh can be absorbed by anyone within a certain proximity.

An Ankh serves as an antenna or conduit for the divine power of life that permeates the universe.

The amulet is a powerful talisman that provides the wearer with protection from the evil forces of decay and degeneration.

The loop of the Ankh is held by the Gods. It is associated with Isis and Osiris in the Early Dynastic Period.

The Loop of the Anhk also represent the feminine discipline or the (Womb), while the elongated section represent the masculine discipline or the (Penis).

These two sacred units then come together and form life. Because of its powerful appeal, the Ankh was used in various religious and cultural rituals involving royalty. In the Treasures of Tutankhumun, the Ankh was a major artifact found in the tomb. The circle symbolizes eternal life and the cross below it represents the material plane.

The Ankh is called the Crux Ansata.

It is of Egyptian origin and can be traced to the Early Dynastic Period, appearing frequently in artwork of various material and in relief, depicting the Gods.

It is usually held to the nose of the deceased king by the Gods to represent the breath of life given in the after-world. The Ankh also resembles a key and is considered the key to eternal life after death.

Its influence was felt in every dynastic period and survives as an icon possessing mystical power throughout the Coptic Christian era.

The Ankh possessed by each God had power associated with that God.

The Ankh of the God Anubis is related to the protection of the dead, that of Sekmet, War, Hapi related to the living waters of the Nile and Amen, the spirit God, the breath of life.

The djed pillar hieroglyph means "stability". The source of the imagery, however, is shrouded in time. It is clearly predynastic in origin and it is suggested that it represents a pole to which corn was was tied, a fertility symbol. It is associated, in use, with Sokar, Ptah, and later with Wesir (Osiris).

It was at Mennefer (Memphis) that kings began to perform the ceremony of "raising the djed pillar as a sign of the stability of the reign, and symbolically the resurrection of Wesir. The djed pillar also came to be equated with the king's backbone, often painted in the bottom of the coffin, under where the spine would lay.


Djed Pillar Meaning

The symbol appears as a pillar or a vertical shaft with four horizontal bars near the top which a series of lines between each bar. There are four bands around the neck of the shaft under the first of the horizontal bars. The Djed pillar represents the concept, the spoken & written word of stability. The origin of the symbol can be traced to the myth of Osiris which involved his brother Seth the god of disorder, chaos, desert, and violence attempting to kill his brother Osiris by tricking Osiris into climbing in a coffin then thrown into the Nile which ended up on the shores of Byblos where a sacred tree grew rapidly around the coffin.

The king of the land was impressed by the huge tree and ordered to be cut into a pillar and put in his palace without what is inside of it, then his wife goddess Isis was able to get the pillar to remove Osiris body and reconstruct the pillar which became known as the Djed Pillar. The creator god Ptah was often seen with the Djed and even called the noble Djed. The Djed pillar represents the human backbone of Osiris which would encourage the soul to rise up from the body and move towards the afterlife and the enduring presence of the gods in one’s life.


Ptah is an Egyptian creator god who existed before all other things, conceived the world, and brought it into being through the creative power of speech. A hymn to Ptah dating to the Twenty-second Dynasty of Egypt says Ptah "crafted the world in the design of his heart," and the Shabaka Stone, from the Twenty-Fifth Dynasty, says Ptah "gave life to all the gods and their kas as well, through this heart and this tongue." [3]

He bears many epithets that describe his role in ancient Egyptian religion and its importance in society at the time:

  • Ptah the beautiful face
  • Ptah lord of truth
  • Ptah master of justice
  • Ptah who listens to prayers
  • Ptah master of ceremonies
  • Ptah lord of eternity
  • Ptah the God who made himself to be God
  • Ptah the double being
  • Ptah the begetter of the first beginning

Like many deities of ancient Egypt he takes many forms, through one of his particular aspects or through syncretism of ancient deities of the Memphite region. Sometimes represented as a dwarf, naked and deformed, his popularity would continue to grow during the Late Period. Frequently associated with the god Bes, his worship then moved beyond the borders of Egypt and was exported throughout the eastern Mediterranean. Through dissemination by the Phoenicians, we find figures of Ptah in Carthage.

Ptah is generally represented in the guise of a man with green skin, contained in a shroud sticking to the skin, wearing the divine beard, and holding a sceptre combining three powerful symbols of ancient Egyptian religion:

These three combined symbols indicate the three creative powers of the god: power (was), life (ankh) and stability (djed).

From the Old Kingdom, he quickly absorbs the appearance of Sokar and Tatenen, ancient deities of the Memphite region. His form of Sokar is found contained in its white shroud wearing the Atef crown, an attribute of Osiris. In this capacity, he represents the patron deity of the necropolis of Saqqara and other famous sites where the royal pyramids were built. Gradually he formed with Osiris a new deity called Ptah-Sokar-Osiris. Statuettes representing the human form, the half-human, half-hawk form, or simply the pure falcon form of the new deity began to be systematically placed in tombs to accompany and protect the dead on their journey to the West.

His Tatenen form is represented by a young and vigorous man wearing a crown with two tall plumes that surround the solar disk. He thus embodies the underground fire that rumbles and raises the earth. As such, he was particularly revered by metalworkers and blacksmiths, but he was equally feared because it was he who caused earthquakes and tremors of the earth's crust. In this form also, Ptah is the master of ceremonies for Heb Sed, a ceremony traditionally attesting to the first thirty years of a pharaoh's reign.

The god Ptah could correspond with the sun deities Re or Aten during the Amarna period, where he embodied the divine essence with which the sun god was fed to come into existence, that is to say to be born, according to the Memphite mythological/theological texts. In the holy of holies of his temple in Memphis, as well as in his great sacred boat, he drove in procession to regularly visit the region during major holidays. Ptah was also symbolized by two birds with human heads adorned with solar disks, symbols of the souls of the god Re: the Ba. The two Ba are identified as the twin gods Shu and Tefnut and are associated with the djed pillar of Memphis. [4]

Finally, Ptah is embodied in the sacred bull, Apis. Frequently referred to as a herald of Re, the sacred animal is the link with the god Re from the New Kingdom. He even received worship in Memphis, probably at the heart of the great temple of Ptah, and upon the death of the animal, was buried with all the honours due to a living deity in the Serapeum of Saqqara.

Scholars have also associated Ptah with the Mandaean god Ptahil outside of Egypt due to their somewhat similar features and closely related names. [5]

As god of craftsmen, the cult of the god Ptah quickly spread throughout Egypt. With the major royal projects of the Old Kingdom, the high priests of Ptah were particularly sought after and worked in concert with the vizier, filling the role of chief architects and master craftsmen, responsible for the decoration of the royal funerary complexes.

In the New Kingdom, the cult of the god would develop in different ways, especially in Memphis, his homeland, but also in Thebes, where the workers of the royal tombs honoured him as patron of craftsmen. For this reason, the oratory of Ptah who listens to prayers was built near the site of Deir el-Medina, the village where the workers and craftsmen were housed. At Memphis, the role of intercessor with humans was particularly visible in the appearance of the enclosure that protected the sanctuary of the god. Large ears were carved on the walls, symbolizing his role as god who listens to prayers.

With the Nineteenth Dynasty, his cult grew and he became one of the four great deities of the empire of Ramesses. He was worshipped at Pi-Ramesses as master of ceremonies and coronations.

With the Third Intermediate Period, Ptah returned to the centre of the monarchy where the coronation of the pharaoh was held again in his temple. The Ptolemies continued this tradition, and the high priests of Ptah were then increasingly associated with the royal family, with some even marrying princesses of royal blood, clearly indicating the prominent role they played in the Ptolemaic court.


SUMMARY

This tomb represents a life-size copy of the Book of the Dead, in stone. A copy of the book, on a papyrus roll, was placed even in the tombs nobles, scribes and craftsmen. Some of these were extremely long, the well known (a scribe) being approx. 23 metres in length. In Nefertari's tomb the walls have been substituted for the papyrus, its painted scenes being the vignettes.

Two other beautiful exist on this site. One of which is a copy of the mysterious prince Maiherkhepri, dating in the days of Thutmosis IV, which was recovered with the character's intact mummy in a tomb of the Valley of the Kings, KV36.

Although not all of the chapters from the Book of the Dead are present, those which are fulfil their purpose of helping the queen successfully reach her goal that of the realm of Osiris and being able (after her regeneration) to journey from the underworld and be assimilated with the solar disk (Ra). The successful end of her sometimes perilous journey, reaching the realm of Osiris, is portrayed on the rear wall of the burial chamber (the religious "West") where she stands before the triad of the gods who govern the destinies of the Westerners (the dead) : Osiris, Hathor and Anubis. Her emergence at the eastern horizon, assimilated with Ra, appears on the soffit of the initial entry doorway, now the exit for her journey beyond the tomb.

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  • LEBLANC, Christian : "Néfertari, 'l'aimée-de-Mout'", Le Rocher, collection Champollion, 1999
  • McCARTHY Heather L. : "Queenship, Cosmography, and Regeneration: The Decorative Programs and Architecture of Ramesside Royal Women’s Tombs", Dissertation, New York University, 2011
  • McDONALD, J.K. : "House of Eternity, The Tomb of Nefertari", Thames and Hudson, 1996.
  • SWATHMORE INSTITUTE : : On Nefertari’s Tomb, a site with some detail image views.
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  • WEEKS, Kent R. : "Valley of the Kings", Vercelli : White Star, 2001, pp.285-309.
  • WILKINSON Richard :"Reading Egyptian art", a hieroglyphic guide to ancient Egyptian painting and sculpture", Thames and Hudson, 1992

Original pages created by Thierry Benderitter
Text by Thierry Benderitter and Jon Hirst
Images taken from the 3D tour created by Jon Hirst