Maybe the most stunning presentation of this book in years: For the first time in 3, years, The Egyptian Book of the Dead: The Book of Going Forth by . Jun 15, View full catalog for Sale Rare Books & Manuscripts Apparently the first printing of the Egyptian Book of the Dead. This copy without. THOMAS G. ALLEN, The Egyptian Book of the Dead Documents in the Oriental Institute Antiquities and Islamic Art, Sotheby's New York (Sale ).
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They were commissioned by people in preparation for their own funeral, or by the relatives of someone recently deceased. They were expensive items; one source gives the price of a Book of the Dead scroll as one deben of silver, perhaps half the annual pay of a labourer.
Papyrus itself was evidently costly, as there are many instances of its re-use in everyday documents, creating palimpsests.
In one case, a Book of the Dead was written on second-hand papyrus. Most owners were men, and generally the vignettes included the owner's wife as well.
Towards the beginning of the history of the Book of the Dead , there are roughly 10 copies belonging to men for every one for a woman. They are composed of sheets of papyrus joined together, the individual papyri varying in width from 15 cm to 45 cm.
The scribes working on Book of the Dead papyri took more care over their work than those working on more mundane texts; care was taken to frame the text within margins, and to avoid writing on the joints between sheets.
The words peret em heru , or 'coming forth by day' sometimes appear on the reverse of the outer margin, perhaps acting as a label.
For instance, in the Papyrus of Ani , the name "Ani" appears at the top or bottom of a column, or immediately following a rubric introducing him as the speaker of a block of text; the name appears in a different handwriting to the rest of the manuscript, and in some places is mis-spelt or omitted entirely.
The hieroglyphs were in columns, which were separated by black lines - a similar arrangement to that used when hieroglyphs were carved on tomb walls or monuments.
Illustrations were put in frames above, below, or between the columns of text. The largest illustrations took up a full page of papyrus.
The calligraphy is similar to that of other hieratic manuscripts of the New Kingdom; the text is written in horizontal lines across wide columns often the column size corresponds to the size of the papyrus sheets of which a scroll is made up.
Occasionally a hieratic Book of the Dead contains captions in hieroglyphic. Most of the text was in black, with red used for the titles of spells, opening and closing sections of spells, the instructions to perform spells correctly in rituals, and also for the names of dangerous creatures such as the demon Apep.
The black ink used was based on carbon, and the red ink on ochre, in both cases mixed with water. Some contain lavish colour illustrations, even making use of gold leaf.
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