Book of the Dead
The Book of the Dead is the modern name for a collection of funerary texts that were usually written on papyrus and evoked during funerary rites. The Egyptians called these texts the "chapters for coming forth by day," which were placed in the tomb to guide and protect the deceased in the long and often difficult journey to the underworld and eternal afterlife. Selected from a collection of two hundred verses, a certain number were personalized by including the name of the deceased. Their purpose was to ward off the anticipated dangers encountered in the afterlife.
The Egyptians believed that these texts were capable of manifesting the desired result by the nature of their power. For instance, one could cause "the deceased to remember his name in the necropolis" or ensure that he be accepted in the land of the dead. Often the texts accompanied vignettes or scenes: a common scene in the Book of the Dead illustrates the weighing of the heart of the deceased against maat or truth.
The Book of the Dead has a long history. Initially meant to unify the spirit of the pharaoh with the solar deity, Re, the writings can be traced back to earlier coffin texts from the Middle Kingdom and to the Pyramid Texts in royal tombs in the Fifth and Sixth Dynasties. Beginning in the Middle Kingdom, however, the texts became more accessible to the common people through the increased democratization of the funerary rites.