An ancient Egyptian funeral procession

A bigger picture

The funeral was just the beginning of the deceased’s long journey into the next life, with the Book of the Dead acting as a guidebook. The journey began with the spirits of the dead person crossing the desert to the mountains of the western horizon, where they were welcomed by the goddess Hathor and given food and drink by the goddess Nut. Then, sometimes travelling by water, sometimes by land, the spirits faced all kinds of dangers, from demons and hungry crocodiles to a lake of fire. The Book of the Dead provided the spells needed to overcome these dangers and help the deceased reach the judgment hall of Osiris, ruler of the Underworld, where the judgement known as the Weighing of the Heart took place. Those who survived the judgement became blessed spirits and were able to live for eternity in the Fields of Reeds.

Shabti box


Painting from a shabti box showing the goddess Nut welcoming a woman and her Ba to the Underworld.

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Spirits guarding the gates of the Underworld


From the Book of the Dead of Ani.

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Sacred baboons guarding the Lake of Fire in the Underworld


From the Book of the Dead of Ani.

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Weighing the heart


From the Book of the Dead of Ani.

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A heart scarab inscribed with spell


Reverse and front of a heart scarab inscribed with spell.

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Ani and his wife Tutu in the Fields of Reeds

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Shabti belonging to a priestess

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An ancient Egyptian funeral procession