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The “Book of the Dead” is a term we use nowadays to talk about a bunch of ancient Egyptian ritual spells. These spells were like instructions and chants to guide people through the afterlife. It’s a fascinating text because it gives us some really vivid pictures of what people back then thought about life after death. Almost everyone has heard something about the stories in the Book of the Dead, which is pretty remarkable when you think about it.

These spells were super important for Egyptians because they believed that by following them, the dead could find their way to the afterlife. They thought that by doing so, they’d hang out with important gods like Re, the sun god, and Osiris, who was in charge of the afterlife. It was all about this idea of going through a cycle of dying and being reborn, kind of like hitting a reset button on life.

There are about 200 different spells known to us today, but back then, they weren’t organized into books like we think of them now. Instead, people wrote these spells on all sorts of things, from mummy wrappings to coffins to little statues and even scrolls made of papyrus. They believed that putting these spells in the tomb with the deceased would help them navigate through the challenges of the afterlife.

One of these spells, called Spell 125, is pretty interesting. It’s like a checklist where the deceased had to deny doing certain bad things when they faced Osiris, the big boss of the afterlife.

The Book of the Dead, one of these spell collections, was usually placed in the coffin or somewhere in the burial chamber. But it’s just one part of a long tradition of these funerary texts. Before the Book of the Dead, there were the Pyramid Texts and the Coffin Texts. Unlike the Book of the Dead, these were painted onto objects, not written on scrolls.

What’s cool is that some of the spells in the Book of the Dead come from these older texts, dating back to around the 3rd millennium BC. But over time, new spells were added, and by the time of the Third Intermediate Period, which was from the 11th to the 7th centuries BC, the Book of the Dead had taken shape as we know it today.

Even though the Book of the Dead was like a greatest-hits collection of spells, many were still written separately on tomb walls and sarcophagi, just like they always had been. It’s like these spells were so important that people wanted to ensure they were everywhere, just in case.

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