Last year, hundreds of sarcophagi and artifacts dating from the New Kingdom (1550-1069 BC) were unearthed in Saqqara. Recent excavations at the same site by a team of archaeologists from the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities and the Zahi Hawass Egyptology Center at the Library of Alexandria have brought to light other treasures.
These treasures thus include the Mortuary Temple of Queen Nearit, a construction that stands near the pyramid of her husband Pharaoh Teti, who ruled Egypt around 2323 to 2291 BCE. More than 50 wooden coffins buried near the sovereign's pyramid, and belonging to people who probably worshiped him were also discovered, as well as a shrine dedicated to Anubis and hundreds of mortuary and religious objects. .
But among the artefacts found, one of the most fascinating objects discovered is a fragment of papyrus about 4 meters long representing chapter 17 of the famous "Book of the Dead" also called "Bible of the ancient Egyptians".
But what exactly is the “Book of the Dead”?
For information, the "Book of the Dead" also called "Book to come out to the day", is a manuscript containing "religious and magical formulas" used by the ancient Egyptians to guide the deceased to his second life, a kind of second birth in the afterlife.
Thus, the deceased will after his death cross the kingdom of Osiris, the god of the dead, in the company of the sun god Re. And thanks to these formulas, the body preserved by the mummification will be reborn in the hope of reaching safe and sound in the fields of Ialou and accessing eternal bliss.
And chapter 17 in this story …
Aside from the cult of King Teti, recently discovered artifacts show the major role of Saqqara necropolis in the organization of Memphis, as well as the evolution of funerary monuments during the New Kingdom. Precisely, chapter 17 of the “Book of the Dead” is a manuscript frequently found in burial chambers from the New Kingdom and it is often placed between the legs of the mummy of the deceased.
On the papyrus discovered by these archaeologists is also the name of its owner Pwkhaef, but also on one of the wooden coffins and on four shabti statuettes (guardians of the necropolis) intended to serve the deceased in the afterlife.
The manuscript containing Chapter 17 is currently being analyzed by experts. We know, however, that this chapter relates to the beginning of transfigurations and glorifications, to leaving the kingdom of the dead and returning as a blessed being to the good West to "come out into the light", to the possibility of making any desired transformations, but above all to life after death.
In a way, it is a guide for the great journey into the afterlife.