Featuring vignettes of deities finely drawn in black ink, this continuously-preserved upper section of a Ptolemaic Book of the Dead scroll is formed of several joined sheets of papyrus inscribed below in hieratic text in black and red ink, written from right to left in separately-grouped horizontal rows. The lower section of the scroll consisting of the bulk of hieratic text was cleanly cut away, most likely in the modern era. The papyrus section is mounted on fine linen, which in turn was mounted on modern paper. The name of the owner is not preserved; instead the pronoun ntf (“he”) has been inserted in the location left blank by the scribe for the later insertion of the name of the deceased. It is also possible that this reflects the erasure of a name and the use of the papyrus by a second owner, a situation documented for a papyrus now in the Louvre (see pp. 89-92 in M. Mosher, The Ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead in the Late Period: A Study of Revisions Evident in Evolving Vignettes, and the Possible Chronological or Geographical Implications for Differing Versions of Vignettes (PhD. diss., University of California, Berkeley)).
Vignettes that are typically associated with Chapters 154, 162, 165 and 164 are placed in a field above and below fine double lines that separate them from the text below. It is clear that a fine reed pen was used for the drawing of the vignettes, whereas a thicker pen was used for the hieratic text. Of interest are the ithyphallic deities featured to the right associated with Chapter 164; these include a three-headed form (human, vulture and lion) of the goddess Mut wearing the double crown with the feet of a lion; she is flanked by smaller falcon-headed and human-headed male dwarf deities holding flails. This unusual image of Mut with a phallus has often been cited as exemplifying complex ancient Egyptian attitudes to gender and sexuality, especially in terms of the afterlife association of both males and females with the god Osiris (see, for example, D. Sweeney, “Sex and Gender,” in E. Frood and W. Wendrich, eds., UCLA Encyclopedia of Egyptology. As Mosher has noted (“Theban and Memphite Book of the Dead Traditions in the Late Period,” Journal of the American Research Center in Egypt 29, 1992, p. 156), “In Spells 163 and 165, the principal deity is Amen, acting as the sun-god, while Mut is the leading deity in Spell 164. Their stature in these spells is unique, for neither held such status in the funerary cult, at least as far as the Book of the Dead was concerned. The reason for the popularity of these spells in Thebes is at once obvious; Amen and his consort Mut were the principal deities of Thebes. As these spells are the only places where Amen and Mut serve any real purpose in the Book of the Dead, one can tentatively conclude that Spells 163-165 were either composed in Thebes or in another cult center of Amen and Mut.”
The vignette to Chapter 165 features an anthropomorphic scarab holding his erect phallus and a flail and wearing two tall plumes. Behind him is a deity in human form with two additional ram heads. A striding Ihet cow wearing a sun disk and double plumes follows behind, wearing a necklace formed of a Hathoric sistrum with menat-counterpoise; this image forms the vignette for Chapter 162. To the left, the sun’s rays emanate from a disk onto the mummified body of the deceased lying atop a lion bier; this vignette usually associated with Chapter 154 is crowned with the symbol for the sky. The specific form of each of these drawings is prescribed in the text of the accompanying spells, and accordingly the vignettes are highly standardized with only minor variations. Similarly illustrated papyri are known from the earlier part of the Ptolemaic period, and may derive from one or more workshops active at Thebes, as Mosher (op. cit.) has demonstrated.
The hieratic text includes the first few lines each of the text of Chapters 163 to 165, supplementary chapters that were added to the Book of the Dead after the New Kingdom, most likely during the Third Intermediate Period (see A. Wüthrich, Eléments de théologie thébaine: les chapitres supplémentaires du Livre des Morts). Their derivation from another ancient compilation is explicitly mentioned at the outset of Chapter 163. Particularly noteworthy are the long strings of “magic words” or names of exotic origin; the text of Chapter 164 purports these words to be of Nubian origin, but this assertion is difficult to confirm and may simply reflect the desire to endow these chapters with the aura of a region often associated in Egyptian culture with magical and divine power.
The text of Chapter 163 begins to the right, where two large wedjat-eyes stand out from the otherwise evenly spaced signs: “. . . your name, the name of the Osiris ntf, the marking of your two Wedjat-Eyes, Sharasharakh is the name of the (?) . . . Sha-ka-t-n (?) . . . -sha Shaka: Amun Shana-sa-ra-ya (?), Atum for whom the Two Lands are illuminated. Saying (?) . . . . any . . . If he enters (among) those who belong to the Mansion, he will arise as one True of Voice/Justified, he . . . . from the terror/dread of the wrongdoing which comes to pass in this land in each of his members, it is Re who will (?) . . . with . . . you will not perish/you will not destroy his name (?)”
Following this is a passage from Chapter 164: “Keep them safe from the evil office, that is the Ba wild of face within the Ennead, the Child who comes forth from the Fierce-Faced One; conceal. . . .” The title of Chapter 165 appears in the next section: “Chapter of [Mooring], not allowing a man to be injured, in order to strengthen the corpse, and in order to swallow water,” and the rubric (text written in red): “Recitation: O you Be[khe]n-stone. . . .”
The kind assistance of Dr. Irmtraut Munro and Dr. Foy Scalf is gratefully acknowledged in the study of this papyrus.