The Amduat (literally "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 (until the 21st Dynasty almost exclusively) or very favored nobility. [Hornung (1999), p.27]

It tells the story of Ra, the sun god, travelling 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, this is 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.

As well as enumerating and naming the inhabitants of the Duat (or Dwat) both good and bad, the illustrations of the 'book' show clearly the topography of the underworld. In hour 1 the sun god enters the western horizon (akhet) which is a transition between day and night. In hours 2 and 3 he passes through an abundant watery world called 'Wernes' and the 'Waters of Osiris'. In hour 4 he reaches the difficult sandy realm of Sokar, the underworld hawk deity, where he encounters dark zig zag pathways which he has to negotiate, being dragged on a snake-boat. In hour 5 he discovers the tomb of Osiris which is an enclosure beneath which is hidden a lake of fire, the tomb is covered by a pyramid like mound (identified with the goddess Isis) and on top of which Isis and Nephthys have alighted in the form of two kites (birds of prey). In the sixth hour the most significant event in the underworld occurs. The ba (or soul) of Ra unites with his own body, or alternatively with the ba of Osiris within the circle formed by the mehen serpent. This event is the point at which the sun begins its regeneration, it is a moment of great significance, but also danger, as beyond it in hour 7 the adversary Apep (Apophis) lies in wait and has to be subdued by the magic of Isis, and the strength of Set assisted by Serqet. Once this has been done the sun god opens the doors of the tomb in hour 8 and then leaves the sandy island of Sokar by rowing vigorously back into the waters in hour 9. In hour 10 the regeneration process continues through immersion in the waters until in hour 11 the gods eyes (a symbol for his health and well being) are fully regenerated. In hour 12 he enters the eastern horizon ready to rise again as the new day's sun.

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

Notes & references


External links

* [ The Book of Am-Tuat by Wallis Budge]
* [ The Book of What's in Hell translated by Jacob Rabinowitz]
* [ The Book of the Hidden Chamber]
* [ list of deities in the "Book of What is in the Netherworld"]

Further reading

* Knowledge for the Afterlife - the Egyptian Amduat - a quest for immortality by Theodore Abt and Erik Hornung Living Human Heritage Publications

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