Wednesday, May 30, 2018

The Valley of the Kings Egypt Book of the Earth, The Book of Gates Egypt and The Book of Caverns written on the walls

The Book of the Earth is an Ancient Egyptian funerary text that has been called many names such as The Creation of the Sun Disk and the Book of Aker. The Book primarily appears on the tombs of Merneptah, Twosret, Ramesses III, Ramesses VI, and Ramesses VII and serves as a counterpart to the Book of Caverns.

The central figures in the story are Osiris, Ra and Ba, while the overarching plot is the journey the sun takes through the earth god, Aker.

The scenes were found on all of the walls of the tombs of Ramesses VI and Ramesses VII. There were a few additional scenes found on the walls of other royal tombs extending from the New Kingdom to the Late Period, but since many scene from the Book were scattered around, the ordering of the illustrations is slightly convoluted.

Structure of the book

Although it is uncertain, it is believed that the surviving panels of the original composition were each divided into three registers. Thus making it unclear about whether or not scenes from other tombs are actually part of the story of the Book of the Earth or if they are separate.

Scholars believe that the Book consists of two halves with one half containing scenes of punishment. The Book of the Earth uses the sun disc as a reoccurring theme. The scenes are oriented so that they are facing to the right, and the illustrations can be read from right to left, like in the tomb of Ramesses VI.

 The Book is divided into five main components; Part E, Part D, Part C, Part B, and Part A. These components make up the theme of the creation of the solar disc and the theme of the sun god, Re's journey in the underworld and making it out into the light. Most of the content takes place within Part D and Part A.

Part E

In this part, there are six gods shown praying to a sun disc at burial mounds. This is smallest portion of the Book that is known, and Part E is most likely not the beginning of the Book of the Earth.

Part D

Part D is probably the beginning of the composition, where most of the setting is introduced. A majority of the content of the Book of the Earth is also located within this section. The realm of the dead is depicted with Osiris, as the primary figure, located within a tomb that is guarded by serpents. Beneath Osiris are the gods Anubis and another god who have their arms stretched out to provide protection over his corpse. This scene depicts renewal, while the scenes on both adjacent sides depict punishment. In the scenes of punishment, the gods of punishment are represented and are holding cauldrons.

Next, the mummy of the sun god stands upon a large sun disc that is enclosed by two pairs of arms rising from the depths of Nun. Surrounding this scene is a wreath of twelve stars and twelve small disks that indicate the course of the hours. The hands of two goddesses hold the ends of this illustration.
The final scene in this section shows Aker, who is representing the barque of the sun god, as a double sphinx. The barque is supported by two uraei, and inside the barque are Khepri and Thoth who are praying to the sun god. Underneath the barque are two royal figures with Isis and Nephthys who are holding a winged scarab beetle and a sun disc.

The middle register begins with Horus rising up out of a divine figure called the "Western One." Next, there are seven mounds that each contains a god. In the next scene, the propagation of Horus is repeated in which Horus is now falcon-headed, and rises from the body of Osiris which is being protected by the corpses of Isis and Nephthys.

In the next scene, Nun's arms are holding the solar disc, and other arms and two uraei hold another sun disc. A serpent is located on the top of this sun disc, which might signify the regeneration of the sun.
Like many Ancient Egyptian texts, the bottom register shows the punishment of enemies in the Place of Annihilation since it is below the gods. Since gods are more important figures, they are depicted above others. The sun god is shown above with several sarcophagi and four enemies below.
Finally, we find a corpse lying in a large sarcophagus located in the Place of Annihilation, which Re calls the "corpse of Shetit." This is the realm of the dead where gods and goddesses above the scene hold their hands out in prayer. In the last scene, we find the Apophis serpent being seized by ram headed gods.

Part C

Part C comprises three registers that might be connected to Part D, but the exact sequence is unclear. The upper and middle registers both start off with images of the sun god in his ram-headed form. Two ba-birds are praying to him while an unknown god is greeting him in the middle register. Behind the unknown god are two additional gods, one being ram-headed and the other being serpent-headed. These gods have their hands stretched out in front of them, towards the sun disc, in a protective gesture. Out of this gesture, the falcon shaped head of "Horus of the netherworld" is projected.

Part B

The registers of this section are less obvious, and many parts might be considered to belong to Part A. The first scenes in this section consist of four oval shapes with mummies inside, which are able to breathe from the rays of the sun god. There are also four burial mounds that have been turned over and are being protected by serpents. The main part of this section depicts a mummy, who is standing, called "corpse of the god," which is also the sun disc itself. In front of him, a serpent rises out of a pair of arms and holds a god and goddess in the act of praise. Behind the mummy is another par of arms, called the "arms of darkness," that is being supported by the crocodile, Penwenti.
Next, there are four more ovals containing mummies with four ba-birds, one ba-bird for each mummy. This, along with two additional hieroglyphs, represents shadows. Underneath this illustration are depictions of barques that contain the mummies of Osiris and the falcon-headed Horus.

At the end of this segment of the Book of the Earth, the upper portion shows a depiction of a large burial mound, containing the sun disc with an unknown god praying to it. Two heads and two goddesses that are located on both sides of the large burial mound also give praise. Directly below this, on the bottom register, are four gods and ba-birds that are also praying.

Part A

In the beginning of this section, the sun god is enclosed by mummies at a burial mound called the Mound of Darkness.Above this mound, a solar barque is shown. Following this scene, Aker is depicted as a double sphinx. the solar barque is located between the entrance and the exit of the realm of the dead, with its stern side facing the exit. Below shows the resurrection of the corpse of the sun, which is a scene that typically occurs in royal sarcophagus chambers.

A falcon head emerges from a sun disc, and the light is shown falling on the "mysterious corpse" which is lying down. In the next scene, twelve goddess, each representing an hour of the night, are depicted. Each goddess has the hieroglyph of a star and a hieroglyph of a shadow with a beaming disk above her. At the beginning of the fourth scene, a few of the mummies are enclosed within four large circles. In the fifth scene, a central god, who is thought to be Osiris, is surrounded by the corpses of Shu (Egyptian deity), Tefnut, Khepri and Nun. The sixth scene, shows a pair of arms rising from the depths. A goddess called Annihilator stands up with her arms reaching to embrace a sun disc.

The arms are supporting two praying goddesses named West and East in a reverse orientation. It is believed that the upper register of this part ends with a line containing a title of this work, though it is still unknown.

The middle register begins with the solar barque again. It is towed by fourteen ram-headed gods with all of their bas. Next, a god stands in his cave, surrounded by twelve star goddesses who are extending discs to him.

The following scene, which is scattered around the tomb of Ramesses VI, shows five burial mounds with a head and arms emerging from it. They are raised up in a gesture of praise. In the third scene, the birth of the sun is represented. This scene also occurs on the sarcophagus of Ramesses IV, but there is more detail and more story on that sarcophagus than in this scene.

 The Book of Gate

The Book of Gates is the principal guidebook to the netherworld found in 19th and part of the 20th Dynasty tombs of the New Kingdom, though it makes its first appearance to us with the last king of the 18th Dynasty. It was meant to allow the dead pharaoh to navigate his way along the netherworld route together with the sun god, so that his resurrection could be affected. It emphasizes gates with guardian deities who's names must be known in order to pass them. This is actually a very old tradition dating to at least the Book of the Two Ways in the Coffin Texts, where there are seven gates with three keepers at each.

From Merneptah, the following kings until the reign of Ramesses IV had the text recorded on the walls of their sarcophagus chambers. A number of kings, such as Ramesses III also had selected text from the book placed on their sarcophagus, and some commoners, such as Tjanefer, a priest of Amun under Ramesses III, were also allowed to use a selection of the scenes. Ramesses VI broke from this tradition, replacing the text with the Book of the Earth in the sarcophagus chamber, but included a complete Book of Gates in the upper part of his tomb. However, Ramesses VII was actually the last pharaoh to include any of the Book of Gates, using the first and second hours in a single corridor. By Ramesses IX, it disappeared entirely from royal tombs.


Structure of the Book
The Book of Gates portrays the gates of the netherworld far more visibly and systematically than other similar compositions. It compares most readily with the gates in the Book of the Dead, spells 144 and 145, which the Ramesside Period Egyptians considered a substitute for the Book of Gates in tombs that did not belong to pharaohs, such as that of Nefertari and others in the Valley of the Queens. In fact, gates in the Book of the Dead spells and elsewhere have caused some confusion with the Book of Gates even among some scholars. The concept of gates in the afterlife was a reoccurring theme amongst many of the books of the afterlife.
On the sarcophagus of Seti I, the hours are in a continuous sequence resulting in the concluding scene occurring directly behind the head of the deceased. The Osireion and the tomb of Ramesses VI also provide a continuous text, though in other tombs the hours are distributed over various walls and rooms.


The Book of Gates encompasses a total of one hundred scenes, many of which fill an entire register, though the last two hours contain a number of brief individual scenes. The Middle Egyptian of dialect of the text displays hardly any influences from the Late Egyptian written language, though it has been established that this composition contains an especially rich vocabulary.

The structure of the Book of Gates is very similar to that of the Amduat, with twelve nocturnal hours each divided into three registers. As in the Amduat, the first hour of the night has a special position with a structure that differs from the remainder of the composition.

However, in the last three hours, the main figure (Atum or Horus) is omitted from the lower registers, which show only deities and not the blessed dead. Also absent are long concluding texts. Instead, we find depictions of the Judgment of the Dead and the course of the sun, not divided into registers, in the middle and at the end of he composition. Also absent are notations concerning the use of the Book, but are replaced by remarks about offerings, which as a rule are located at the end of a scene (though not in the final three hours).
The Tired Ones and Bound Enemies from the tomb of Ramesses IV

The Book of Gates also differs from the Amduat by the means of the gates depicted at the end of each hour. In the Book of Gates, each gate has a guardian in the form of a serpent on its door, as well as two further guardians with scary names and fire spitting uraei. Also, in the solar barque, only two gods, Sia and Heka are found depicted together with the sun god, while there are many crew members in the Amdaut. In the Book of Gates, the cabin of the barque in each hour is protected by a mehen-serpent and four male figures are portrayed like hieroglyphs towing the barque. In the sarcophagus chambers of Haremhab, Ramesses I and Seti I, the clothing and beards of these figures clearly mark them as human, rather than divine beings.
The ninth hour from the tomb of Tausert and Setnakht showing the battle with Apophis and the punishment of the sun god's enemies
The judgement hall of Osiris is given a special, central position inserted into the fifth gateway of the Book of gates. Situated just prior to the union with the sun's corpse in the sixth hour, the texts are specifically cryptic. However, beginning with the tomb of Seti I, this judgment scene is replaced by one depicting the king before the enthroned (and later standing) Osiris, so that no longer are the dead judged, but rather the king is identified with the ruler of the dead.
More than a thousand deities and deceased persons, representing many more than in the Amduat, are depicted within the Book of Gates. However, they are more regularly combined into groups, and they bear fewer individual names. Many of these groups represent deceased persons rather than deities.
This text, like other netherworld compositions, is concerned with the nocturnal journey of the sun. Compared to the Amduat, the hours are somewhat displaced. For example, in the Book of Gates, the drowned appear in the ninth rather than the tenth hour. Also, because of the grouping of deities and deceased persons, they are more clearly distinguished from each other then in the Amduat, and the dead appear bound to their respective regions in the hours of the night. Here also, the dead king's special status is more clearly defined, as he accompanies the sun god to his rebirth in the morning. In fact, most versions contain additions to the texts and representations that refer directly to the king.


Hour One
Hour one
As the sun god inters the ream of the dead, he is greeted by the collective dead, who are assigned the title of "gods of the west:", rather than individual deities. Actually, as in the Amduat, this first hour is an interstitial place that precedes the actual netherworld after the first gate. Here, there are two steaks surmounted by a ram's head and a jackal's head that both punish and reward those who dwell here.
Hour Two
Hour two
In the second hour, the dead are clearly separated between those in the upper register of the composition, who have followed Ma'at and who are now blessed, and those in the bottom register who have not, and are now reprimanded by Atum. The four Weary Ones are depicted, along with the "enemies". In the middle register separating these extremes is the barque, which encounters the "gods in the entrance",
Hour Three
Hour three
The third hour of the Book of Gates appears to emphasis a few motifs that are central to the nightly journey, including mummies in the upper register, which are awakened from the dead and reanimated in their shrines. Here also is the ambivalent Lake of Fire, where the damned will meet flame. However, the blessed dead are provisioned from the same flames. The middle register depicts the sun god being towed along in the "barque of the earth"., a symbolic condensation of his entire journey through the depths of the earth. At the end of the register he is dressed in sparkling white linens which is also symbolic of renewal. However, Aphophis the snake makes his first appearance in front of Atum as well. Atum must be assisted by two Enneads in order to overcome this archenemy.
Hour Four
Hour four
Perhaps variations of the Lake of Fire from the third register, two bodies of water dominate the top register in the fourth hour of the Book of Gates. They are called the Lake of Life, which is guarded by jackals, and the Lake of Uraei. In the middle register, shrines containing mummies of the dead, not yet risen, stand before the barque. The sun god causes their resurrection and provisioning. Their renewed life in the hereafter occupies an entire hour of the night. The passing of the hours is laid out in the following scene, with its many-coiled serpent representing time and its twelve goddesses embodying the hours. The enshrined Osiris is protected on all sides by the gods of his entourage in the lower register, while Horus cares for his deceased father. Osiris' enemies are punished in the fiery pits at the end of the register.
Hour Five
Hour five
Hour Five is one of the most complex hours within the composition. In the upper registers, the gods are portrayed with a surveying cord, because the deceased are allotted space (in the form of fields) within this hour. The deceased are also allotted time, and hence the gods also carry the body of a serpent and the hieroglyphs meaning "lifetime" in the lower register. In order to accomplish this, the Apophis fiend, known as "the Retreater, must once again be battled and fettered. Behind Apophis we notice the ba-souls of the blessed dead, and at the beginning of the lower register are found the four "races" of mankind, including Egyptians, Asiatics, Nubians and Libyans. Each race is represented by four individual figures, who are assured existence in the afterlife. They are placed in the care of Horus and Sakhmet. It should be noted that the Great Hymn of Akhenaten, Aten is said to care even for foreign people, and hence, they are sheltered in the realm of the dead, according to the Book of Gates.
The Judgment Hall
Just before the sixth hour, we find the portrayal of the Judgment hall, empathized by its insertion as a special scene. This is the only representation of the Judgment of the dead in any of the Books of the Netherworld, and so it is distinguished by the use of cryptographic writing. In the earlier versions, Osiris is enthroned on a stepped dais while the personified scale in front of him, unlike that in the Book of the Dead, bears empty pans. Therefore, the blessed dead stand on the steps of the dais, while the enemies who are consigned to the "Place of Annihilation" lie beneath their feet. Here also, we see another mincing power in the form of a pig being driven off.
Hour Six
Hour six
The judgment of the Dead is therefore the prelude to the union of the Ba and the corpse of he sun god (like those of all the blessed deceased). The sixth hour of the night is the deepest part of the journey through the netherworld. In the middle register, the dead corpse of the sun god immediately in front of the barque and its towmen, is invisible. It is being carried by gods whose arms are also invisible because of their contact with the corpse. In the lower register, mummies of deceased persons lie on a long, serpent-shaped bed so that they may participate in the union with the ba and the resurrection that it effects. Gods holding forked poles in the upper register keep Apophis at bay while this critical event unfolds. From his head people who he has swallowed are now set free once more. There is also the depiction of a twisted double rope that represents time. It is being unwound from the pharynx of the god, Aqen. The lower register of this hour end with a scene depicting a circular Lake of Fire which is inhabited by a cobra that acts as a deterrent to all enemies.
Hour Seven
Hour seven
In the seventh hour, the central motif is the elimination of all mincing forces that might interfere with the sun's renewal. In the middle register, just before the solar barque, appears the jackal headed "stakes of Geb", with two enemies of the god bound to each. Re, the sun god consents to their torment by two demons. However, in the upper register we find two groups of blessed dead, one with baskets filled with grain as a sign of their material provisioning, and the other with the feather of Ma'at as a symbol of their vindication in at the Judgment of the Dead. They will exist until the end while sheltered by Ma'at, while the damned below are consigned to the Place of Annihilation. The caption on this upper register speaks of Osiris welcoming his new followers. In the lower register, we again find the blessed who have followed Ma'at, who are here gathering huge ears of grain intended for their assured provisions. Others are provided with sickles for harvesting, while the rays of the revived sun effects abundant fertility.
Hour Eight
Hour eight
We once again find the depiction of infinite time depicted as an endless rope spooled out hour by hour, and also as the towrope of the barque, which "produces mysteries." In the middle register, the "lords of provision in the west", who stand before the barque, are commissioned by Re to allocate provisions to the blessed while at the same time inflicting evil on the enemies. In the lower register are once again mummies. They have turned over on their biers and are therefore in the process of resurrection. Nearby, a council of judges protects them.
Hour Nine
Hour nine
In the middle register of the ninth hour, a theme is borrowed from the Amduat (tenth hour). Here, a rectangle of water contain the drowned. Four groups of deceased humans are found floating in the primeval waters of Nun. They are actually being refreshed by the waters and will therefore be resurrected. We find that their noses breath the air, and their ba-souls will not be destroyed so that they will share existence with the blessed. In these scenes, Re is the "one who is in Nun", and in the scene that concludes the book, he will be raised up out of Nun. The souls of the blessed appear in the upper register. Before them stand a group of figures who offer them bread and vegetables. By contract, in the lower register we find, once more, the condemned. Here are depicted twelve enemies who are each bound in one of three different manners. They are inflamed by the Fiery One, a huge serpent who has been called forth by Horus for the atrocities they have committed against his father, Osiris. The children of Horus stand in his coils of this great snake.
Hour Ten
Hour ten
The middle register of the tenth hour is entirely filled with a representation of the battle against Apophis. Fourteen deities hold nets containing magical powers above their heads. This magic renders Apophis defenseless. Perhaps Geb, as the "Old One" ties fetters around the snakes body. In the upper and lower registers we find special manifestations of the sun god. In the upper register, he is depicted as a griffin and is followed by two serpents who help in the punishment of Apophis, as well as the other enemies. In the lower register the sun god is portrayed in the center as a falcon, though he is also referenced as Khepri ("scarab beetle"). He is connected to other figures by a continuous rope. The text that accompanies this scene talks of the "emergence" and stresses that the journey is proceeding now towards the sky.
Hour Eleven
Hour eleven
By the eleventh hour, we find a bound Apophis and other enemies in the upper register. He is dismembered, and hence rendered harmless. The rope that holds Apophis and his assistants is held by a giant fist emerging from the depths. In the middle register, the dead may gaze upon the continence of the God Re, who's face is making its way in the barque. n interesting aspect of this scene is the reversal of the barque, which may be an allusion to the reversal of time. Before the barque are the stars which will herald the reappearance of the sun god. We find in the lowest register oarsmen of the god, together with the goddesses of the hours; time and energy (rowing). They will propel the barque up into the eastern horizon. Here, the battle in the netherworld is obviously won, for some deities are already announcing he god in the horizon. There cries will be joined by the din of noise that will eventually accompany the rising sun.
Hour Twelve
Hour twelve
In the twelfth hour, the sun god finally arrives at the gate "with the mysterious entrance", through which he will the miracle of his rebirth will occur. In the upper register, gods "carry the blazing light". which is obvious from the sun disks in their hands. Stars precede the appearance of the sun, while goddesses seated upon serpents surround and protect the solar child. Before the god's barque lies Apophis, who is fettered. He is held in check by gods with knives and shepherd's crooks in order that he may not impede the sunrise. Just behind him are four baboons, their arms raised in jubilation, who announce the sun god in the eastern horizon. Several motif are represented in the lower register, including crowns that are to be worn as symbols of power when leaving the netherworld. Also, we find the nurses of the newborn sun, while at the same time, Osiris is mourned, for he must remain in the netherworld. This final gate, through which the sun god will emerge onto the horizon, is guarded by Isis and Nephthys, in the form of uraei.

The Book of Caverns appears to have originated in the Ramessid Period (the 20th Dynasty). As an underworld book, it seems almost to emphasize that previous text had been too soft on those deceased who fail their judgment in the afterlife, while at the same time focusing also on the rewards of those who do. It is, in fact, one of our best sources on the ancient Egyptian concept of Hell.

The Osireion, a well known cenotaph of Seti I located at Abydos, along with his mortuary temple, has the first known version of The Book of Caverns that is nearly complete (having its upper register damaged. It is found directly across from the rendering of the Book of Gates within the entry corridor on the left wall. Hence, it appears to be a relatively late funerary text of the New Kingdom, not showing up at all until the 19th Dynasty, and not making it into the tombs within the Valley of the Kings until the following reigns. A deviated version of the final depictions are given a dominant position in the decorative theme of the sarcophagus chamber in the tombs of Merneptah (KV8), Tausert (KV14) and Ramesses III (KV11), so versions of this book may have also been inscribed on earlier gilded shrines around the sarcophagi. Unfortunately, these earlier shrines are lost to us, so that possibility may never be known.
In the third corridor of the tomb of Ramesses IV (KV2) in the Valley of the Kings, Ramesses IV employed the earliest versions of the first and second sections of The Book of Caverns, rather than the traditional Amduat passages, and then repeats these passages twice more in the room behind his sarcophagus chamber. By the reign of Ramesses VI (KV9), we find an almost complete version of the book, here as in the Osireion, opposite the Book of Gates in the front half of the tomb, though due to the limited wall space, some passages had to be continued on pillars and in the upper pillared hall as well. While in the tomb of Ramesses VII (KV1), we find a similar arrangement to that of Ramesses VI on the right wall, here only the first corridor is decorated, with a small excerpt from The Book of Caverns second section. Later though, in the Tomb of Ramesses IX (KV6), there were selections from the first four sections on the right wall of the first and second corridors. However, in the sarcophagus chamber we also find parts of the two remaining sections of the book.
Afterwards, bits and pieces of The Book of Caverns appears here and there, during various periods. For example, the first section and passages of the fourth section, along with the concluding representations were included on a 21st Dynasty papyrus of Nedjmet. There is also a Late Period version in the tomb of Petamenophis that has yielded otherwise missing parts of the text, and another Late Period version containing the first two sections of the book were inscribed on the Nilometer at Roda Island. Though used rarely on late sarcophagi, one example exists with the book's first two sections, along with parts of the Amduat and the Litany of Re.
Jean Francois Champollion apparently first described the version of the book in the tomb of Ramesses VI, and even provided some translations in his thirteenth letter he sent from Egypt. However, no scholars seemed particularly interested in the book until a century later when a second complete version was discovered in the Osireion. Henri Frankfort tried to compose the first translation of that text, assisted by Adriaan de Buck in 1933. However, it was not until the period between 1941 and 1646 that Alexandre Piankoff executed an edition of the text based on several versions which he translated into French. He also translated the text from the tomb of Ramesses VI into English in 1954. Not until 1972 was a version translated into German by Erik Hornung, and a synoptic edition of the text has never been published.
The name we give this text, The Book of Gates, is a modern invention based on the netherworld being divided into "caves" or actually "caverns" from the Egyptian "qerert", for no original title has ever been discovered. However, it should be noted that Piankoff translated qerert to mean "envelope" or "cocoon". Unlike the Amduat and the Book of Gates, this book is not divided up into regions of the night, though an attempt is made to follow the general divisions divided up between three registers. However, these registers often had to be staggered due to space limitations. In all, every version divides the two initial sections into five registers. We also end up with problems in the version of the book in the tombs of Ramesses VI and Ramesses IX, for apparently the initial design of these versions was meant for a left hand wall, but transposed on the right hand wall.
The Book of Caverns is divided into two halves by two large depictions of the ram headed sun god, and each half is further divided into three parts. Hence there are a total of six sections. The text of the first two sections of the book are separated from the representations, with the text placed after the representations, though this order is reversed in the version found in the tomb of Ramesses VII. Here, the sun god invokes the individual beings or groups of gods depicted in the representations within a long monologue. The remaining sections combine representations and captions, as well as a descriptive formula of the earlier books. Each section within the second half of The Book of Caverns is preceded by several litanies, with section five having a total of thirteen.
The coffer of Osiris in the Second section of the Book of Caverns (from the tomb of Ramesses IV
Like the Book of Gates, the Book of Caverns, with the exception of the final representation, divides the text into registers with further pictures. It should also be noted that it is more literary then previous funerary books of the New Kingdom, having a higher percentage of text to pictures. In section five, the depictions are of Nut and Osiris, with the image of Nut alluding to the theme of the Books of the Sky, which describes the nightly journey of the sun through the body of Nut.
The solar bargue is only found within the final representations. In sections three through six in which the damned and their punishment (occupying the lower registers) are not depicted, the individual scenes have a sun disk. The beings who are portrayed in the various caverns are often enclosed in ovals, while there are sarcophagi that enclose the bodies of gods and goddesses. In the single example found in the tomb of Ramesses VI, some two hundred remarks were added referring to the king.
The obvious theme of this book, like other such text, is the sun god's nightly passage through the netherworld. Interestingly, the distinction between Osiris and Re are clouded, and both actually seem to be viewed as attributes of a sole deity. A principle motif of the book is established primarily in section three. Here, Osiris, who is more prominent then in most prior funerary text, is encountered by Re as a corpse in his "coffer". In section four the god begins to regenerate. Less prominent is the battle with Apophis found in the Amduat and the Book of Gates.
First Section of the Book of Caverns
First Section of the Book of Caverns
At the very beginning of the book, two vertical strips depict the solar disk and Re as a ram headed sun god. This is "Re who is in the sky", and his mission is to enter the primeval darkness in order to defend and and provide care to Osiris. Afterwards, depictions of section one are divided into five registers. The separate text is a monologue of Re directing various groups of entities. Here, the three snakes of the Duat's first cavern guard the cavern entrance. Re faces Osiris with his hand extended to him in the third register. We see Osiris within his shrine, protectively surrounded by a serpent, as are his followers inside their sarcophagi. In the bottom register, Osiris' enemies are shown beheaded though still guarded by another three serpents. They are to be punished in the "Place of Annihilation", an ancient Egyptian concept of Hell, as Re condemns them to nonexistence.
Second Section of the Book of Caverns
Second Section of the Book of Caverns
In section two, Re must reach the various gods and goddesses in their sarcophagi who are guarded by several serpents. He meets various forms of Osiris in the second register and beseeches them to "open their arms to me...receive me". In the third register, Re encounters Osiris in his coffer, which sits aside the ram and jackal headed posts of the sun god found also in the Book of Gates. Other forms of Osiris are encountered in the fourth register, while in the lowest register, we again find Osiris' enemies who are bound and beheaded. Some of these figures are depicted hanging head first with their hearts torn out. Once again, Re condemns them to nonexistence, sending them to the Place of Annihilation where their punishment is carried out by guards with knives. Now, Osiris is told by Re that he will enter the "cavern where Aker is".
Third Section of the Book of Caverns
Third Section of the Book of Caverns
Third Section of the Book of Caverns
Hence, in the third section, Re enters the cavern that contains Aker and finds the ithyphallic body of Osiris lying beneath Aker, an earth god. Here, in the first register, Osiris is depicted as the dead king in his sarcophagus, which is guarded by several serpents. After that scene we find depicted several figures with the heads of catfish. They are the helpers of Aker who we will encounter again, and represent the deepest and darkest regions of earth and water. In addition, Re also finds other manifestations of himself within sarcophagi, while the end of the register is filled with divine sarcophagi "in the cavern of Osiris-Khentamentiu".
In the middle register of the third section, we initially encounter Re once again in his manifestation as the Eldest One, who leans on a staff. He addresses four forms of Osiris as the "lords of the Duat". The center scene in this register depicts Aker as a double sphinx surrounded by the gods of the Ennead. The next scene seems to stress the unity of Re and Osiris, with the corpse of Osiris in his sarcophagus, along with a Ram's head, and the eye of Re in sarcophagi. Surrounding all of this is a ouroboros. Next, Osiris is once again shown surmounting a serpent as "the one who has become two".
In the lower register of section three, we once again encounter those who are in hell. In this case, the "enemies" are all upside down and some have been decapitated. Here, in the first two groups who are pleading for mercy, we find for the first time, female enemies. Now the wicked are in the primeval darkness of the Place of Annihilation, and by the end of the register, even their ba (souls) are upside down, and thus being punished. Interestingly, the ithyphallic corpse of Osiris is also here among the enemies, but the sun disk sits above him, and he is protected by a serpent.
Fourth Section of the Book of Caverns
Fourth Section of the Book of Caverns
The second half of the Book of Caverns begins with section four. Initially we find an erect serpent named Great One on His Belly, with the solar disk and the ram headed sun god to either side. Here, the opening text in vertical columns consists of three litanies praising the sun god, praising his beauty as he illuminates the region of darkness. Re faces Osiris and his followers and makes a number of promises. In the upper register, we first encounter Isis and Nephthys who lift the body of Osiris so that he may be resurrected. This is followed by a scene depicting Osiris being cared for by his two "sons", Anubis and Horus and following this, Osiris is portrayed as the Bull of the West, accompanies by Horus-Mekhentienirty, a mongoose (ichneumon) who is his son.
A scene from the Fourth Section of the Book of Caverns
The second register of section four begins with Re, one more leaning on a staff, facing the three forms of Osiris. This is followed by a scene depicting Horus and Anubis protecting the double corpse of Osiris, and another scene where they stand in a pose symbolic of protecting Osiris and his ba.
In the lower register, we once again encounter the enemies in hell, who are found and standing on their heads, which this time have not been cut off. However, between them are the "annihilators in the Place of Annihilation,". In this initial scene, the punishing demon is Miuti, the "cat-formed one, from whose clutches there is no escape". We are told that there bodies have been robbed of their souls, and that they can neither see nor hear Re.
Fifth Section of the Book of Caverns
Fifth Section of the Book of Caverns
At the beginning of the fifth section of the Book of Caverns, Tatenen, the litanies reveal a little known but important deity as both an earth god and the father of the gods, who rejuvenates the sun. The initial depictions portrays Nut, the goddess of the sky, who lifts the ram headed sun god and the solar disk on her upraised palms. She faces the three registers and is surrounded by motifs representing the course of the sun, including on one side a scarab pushing the solar disk, then a ram, a disk, a ram headed deity and a child, while on the other side, a series of crocodiles pushes a ram's head, a scarab, an utchat eye and a disk. There is also human headed, bearded serpents that rear up on either side of Nut. Her arms are stretched towards the heavens in order to receive the solar child. Here, Nut is called the Mysterious One and "she with the mysterious form.".
From the Fifth Section of the Book of Caverns
A part of the Fifth Section of the Book of Caverns
The upper register of section five begins with Osiris, whose hands are extended out to Re, along with four human headed serpents. In the next scene, we encounter a representation of Tatenen, who is propped up by the corpses of Atum and Khepri. Next, we find two sarcophagi, one of which encases the two manifestations of Re as a child.
In the middle register, initially we find represented the four falcon headed mummies who are forms of Horus, which is followed by Anubis in his role as guardian and a coffin containing the scepter of Atum, which embodies the creative power of the sun god, and therefore "created the netherworld and brought forth the realm of the dead". At the end of this register, we find four unknown goddesses in sarcophagi.
The bottom register of this section opens once again with the ancient Egyptian concept of Hell, where a female deity who carries two stakes in her hand is about to punish two bound prisoners who kneel before her. In the following two scenes the enemies are being punished in large cauldrons. We see in the first cauldron their heads and hearts (which the ancient Egyptians thought of more as the mind), and in the second we find the decapitated, bound, upside down enemies themselves. A uraei fans the flames beneath the cauldrons, which are being held above the fire by the "arms of the Place of Annihilation.
The three registers of section five are interrupted by an image of Osiris, once again depicted in his ithyphallic guise, together with his ba that is symbolized by a bird atop his head. He is guarded by a protective serpent. As the registers continue, we first find an oval containing the four "flesh" hieroglyphs which refer to the corpse of Osiris. His corpse is now cared for by the light and voice of Re. Below this, the goddess Tayt greets the sun god and Osiris, which is followed by a scene depicting the head of Re in its ram manifestation being adored by Osiris and Horus. Another cauldron, in the lower register, contains the flesh, the souls and the shadows of the enemies of Re and Osiris. Once again, the arms of the Place of Annihilation hold the cauldron which is being heated by two goddesses.
It should be noted that the shadow held important connotations to the ancient Egyptians. It was considered to be a major component of an individual, as well as a separate mode of existence. We find the mention of shadows mostly in funerary text such as this, with early references appearing in the Coffin Text of the First Intermediate Period and the Middle Kingdom.
Between section five and six, the final part of the Book of Caverns, there is a long text consisting of thirteen litanies which refer to the prior section (five). Here, Re addresses all the entities, including his enemies, portrayed in the section five. The sun god gazes upon his own corpse with the intent of effecting the resurrection of Osiris-Imenrenef, who is "he whose name is hidden".
Sixth Section of the Book of Caverns
Sixth Section of the Book of Caverns
The first scene in the upper register of part six depicts the funerary god, Anubis, caring for corpses ("the bodies which are in the earth") in their sarcophagi, which is followed by a second scene where Anubis tends to the sun god, who in his sarcophagus, is depicted as a ram with a falcon head. In the third scene, the sun god, in several manifestations is now being watched over by two goddesses, each of whom stand on the symbols for flesh. Here, he is presented with a ram's head, as a scarab and in his role as "he of the netherworld". In the final scenes of this register, Osiris-Orion leans over a mound containing a fettered and decapitated figure, followed by a god who prays before a falcon. Osiris is shown protecting Horus, his son, as well as the sun god who is within Horus.
In the middle register, initially we find a scene portraying a scarab beetle pushing the sun disk before it out from "between the two mysterious caverns of the West" (the mountains of sunrise). This cavern contains both Osiris and Re, who are met by four standing gods. Here, text addresses the rebirth of the god, which is heralded by the scarab. Yet, even now there remains a final threat, depicted as the great serpent encircling the solar beetle. This obstacle is overcome by the "two old and great gods in the Duat", who cut the serpent into pieces and place a spell upon it. While this serpent seems malicious, another represented in the third scene appears to regenerates Re, who emerges from the mound in a ram head manifestation, to sit upon the tomb of Tatenen. In a fourth scene, two sarcophagi holding falcon headed gods are encountered by Re, while in the next scene, he meets several gods who are headless. Re restores their head with his creative power.
Final Representation in the Book of Caverns
The motif of the lowest register, consistently followed throughout the Book of Caverns, is once again present in this final part of the sixth section. Again, we find scenes of punishment in the place of Annihilation, where at first, goddesses wielding knives torture supine, beheaded figures with their heads set at their feet and who's hearts have been torn from their bodies.

The accompanying text also explains that the soul and shadows of these enemies have also been punished. In the second scene, we encounter four bound female enemies who are guarded by two jackal headed goddesses. Re has condemned these enemies, once again, to the "Place of Annihilation, from which there is no escape". Next, four more headless, kneeling and bound enemies are guarded by a god and goddess, and finally in the last scene, the enemies are thrown head first into the depths of the Place of Annihilation, while Osiris rises out of the abyss.

A final representation after the sixth section of the Book of Caverns shows Re emerging from the "two mounds", which are each protected by a god. We also find the solar barque, towed out of the netherworld by twelve gods, while seven more rejoice to either side.

While the boat is not yet completely revealed, we do see the ba, the scarab and the ram headed morning form of the sun god, and in front of the barque, we see a ram headed scarab beetle, along with the sun as a child. A symbolic representation of the route through the netherworld, consisting of two triangles, is sown leading to a large representation of the sun disk.

The triangles each are half black (the netherworld) and half blue, representing water. In the end, we finally witness Re at the end of his nightly journey, entering the eastern mountains from where he will rise once more to provide light for the living world.




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