Episode 45: The Book of Two Ways.

Senuseret III (Part III): The Coffin Texts.

Circa 1867 BCE the cultural products of Egypt are developing rapidly. As part of a generations-long process, the aristocracy are now taking a greater share in its rewards than ever before. They paint spells, hymns and stories upon their coffins, giving them access to the realm of Osiris and breaking the old royal-control of the afterlife.

How did they realize this dream? What was the afterlife like, and how did they experience it once they arrived? We explore these questions and more…

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Senuseret III

All images wikimedia unless otherwise noted.

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Colossal statue of Senuseret III, Cairo Museum.
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Boat from the time of Senuseret III, Cairo museum.
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Boat from the time of Senuseret III, Cairo museum.
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Boat from the time of Senuseret III, Cairo museum.

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The Coffin of Gua from Deir el-Bersha, showing the Two Ways into the Underworld (The British Museum).
An offering bearer from the tomb of Gua (The British Museum).
An ivory head-rest from the tomb of Gua (The British Museum).
The tomb of Djehuty-Hotep at Deir el-Berhsa (Source: Osiris.net).
The sister of Djehuty-Hotep on a block from his tomb (The British Museum).
The entourage of Deir el-Bersha (The British Museum).

Bibliography

Leonard H. Lesko, “Some Observations on the Composition of the Book of Two Ways,” Journal of the American Oriental Society, Vol. 91 (1971). JSTOR link.

Harold M. Hays, “The Mutability of Tradition: The Old Kingdom Heritage and Middle Kingdom Significance of Coffin Texts Spell 343,” Jaarbericht van het Vooraziatisch-Egyptisch Genootschap “Ex Oriente Lux” Vol. 40 (2007).

W.K. Simpson (editor), The Literature of Ancient Egypt, 2006. PDF Copy at Archive.org.

The Fitzwilliam Museum, Egyptian Funerary Literature, website.

Osiris.net, The Tomb of Djehuty-hotep, website.

Margaret R. Buson, Encyclopedia of Ancient Egypt – Revised Edition 2001. GoogleBooks Edition.

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