Monday, April 20, 2009

Amduat - The Book of the Secret Chamber

The oldest of the royal funerary books is the Amduat. Amduat literally means "That Which Is In the Afterworld" - is an important Ancient Egyptian funerary text of the New Kingdom. Like many funerary texts, it was written on the inside of the tomb for reference by the deceased. Unlike other funerary texts, however, it was reserved only for pharaohs or very favored nobility.

It tells the story of Re, the sun god, traveling through the underworld, between the time the sun sets in the west and rises again in the east. It is understood that the dead pharaoh is taking this same journey, ultimately to unify with the sun god and become immortal.

The underworld is divided into twelve hours of the night, each presenting various allies and enemies for the pharaoh/sun god to encounter.

The Amduat names all of these entities, totalling many hundreds of gods and monsters. In fact, a prime purpose of the Amduat to provide the names of these creatures to the spirit of the dead pharaoh, so he can call upon them for aid or use their name to defeat them.

The earliest complete version of the Amduat is found in KV34, the tomb of Thutmose III in the Valley of the Kings.