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Papyrus Ani
London, British Museum, Nr. 10.470, early 19th dynasty, around 1300 BC



Further Pictures


One of the most significant Egyptian Books of the Dead, the so-called Ani Papyrus, is kept in the British Museum in London under the shelf number 10.470. The manuscript was found in Thebes and is thought to date back to the early 19th dynasty. It was written around 1300 BC for Ani, a high ranking officer of the temple administration.

Testimony to an age-old civilization

The origins of this type of manuscript go back to the mid-16th century BC At that time, people started to write down dictums which had previously been passed on orally over the millenaries. In addition, passages taken from Pyramid Texts were written onto rolls of papyrus and put into the graves of the dead to be taken along on their journey to the afterworld. The Book of the Dead contains a collection of magical dictums which were thought to help revive the dead and protect them against the threats of the hereafter.

The Ani Papyrus introduces the dead to the world of Egyptian gods in a series of related scenes. Of particular importance is the famous judgement scene in which Ani is deemed pure, receives a ritual burial and is thus brought back to life. Following that he is initiated onto the cosmic laws and integrated into the community of gods. The magic and mystery of the manuscript is underlined not only by the small pictures inserted in the text but also by the larger ones in the vignettes. These colourful drawings accompany the individual passages of text and illustrate the narrative in forceful symbolical language.

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