In May 2022, a team of Egyptian archaeologists made an extraordinary discovery during excavations carried out in the ancient necropolis of Saqqara: a papyrus from the Book of the Dead.
This collection of sacred texts served the deceased in overcoming the dangers they would encounter on their journey to the afterlife. The papyrus was found in a tomb located south of the stepped pyramid of Pharaoh Djoser of the Third Dynasty, and it is two thousand years old.
The papyrus was rolled up inside the coffin of a man named Ahmose, who shares a name with the last pharaoh of the 17th Dynasty that drove the Hyksos out of ancient Egypt. According to the researchers, his name is mentioned some 260 times in the text.
The owner of the papyrus lived around 300 BC at the beginning of the time of the Ptolemies, a dynasty of pharaohs of Greek origin who were descendants of one of the most important generals of Alexander the Great.
A Perfect Calligraphy
The discovery of this papyrus, 16 meters long, was announced on January 14, 2023, and it has now undergone an exhaustive examination and a complex restoration process. It has been exposed to the public at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.
The papyrus consists of ten images that represent scenes from the afterlife starring the gods, and it is written in hieratic, an abbreviated form of hieroglyphic writing. During its study, it was translated into Arabic.
The team of restorers carried out meticulous conservation work to unroll the papyrus without damaging it. The document was written in black and red ink, and its excellent quality has led researchers to believe that it was written by a professional scribe.
Despite the large size of this beautiful papyrus, some even longer Book of the Dead texts are known, such as the one known as the Ani Papyrus, which measures almost 24 meters long and has been on display in the British Museum since 1888.