Amduat of Tanetshedkhons

Dynasty 21, 1069-945 BC
Papyrus, pigment
Gift of Anne Cox Chambers

This papyrus belonged to the Mistress of the House and Chantress of Amun, Tanetshedkhons, a Theban noble-woman of the Twenty-first Dynasty. The scroll is inscribed with portions of two funerary texts known as the Litany of Re and the Amduat, or Book of that which is in the Underworld. The Amduat, like the Book of the Dead, is one of several guidebooks designed to aid the deceased in their perilous journey through the Underworld. These guidebooks provided descriptions of the Underworld, accompanied by illustrations, to familiarize the deceased with the challenges to be faced and to lessen their apprehension. In the Litany of Re, the deceased is equated with the sun god, who was reborn each morning, in the hope of securing the same fate.

Like many other funerary texts, the Amduat and Litany were originally restricted to the use of the king, though the elite had adopted them by the Twenty-first Dynasty. In its fullest form, the Amduat consists of twelve sections, corresponding to the hours of the night when the sun god travels through the Underworld in his barque. Certain sections, such as these, depict the beings, both good and evil, that inhabit the Underworld and may help—or hinder—the deceased. This papyrus would have been placed in the tomb, near to Tanetshedkhons for easy access—in some instances, kings would inscribe an abbreviated version at the foot of their coffins, as a quick reference. Click here to explore the text and images of the Amduat of Tanetshedkhons.