Episode 82: That Which is in the Underworld

The Book of the Hidden Chamber (Amduat)

In the mid-18th Dynasty (c.1430 BCE), pharaohs were decorating their tombs with a beautiful and intricate set of religious images. These texts/scenes comprised the Amduat (“That Which is in the Underworld”), and they told the story of Re’s journey through the night-time hours. In twelve chapters, Re travelled deep into the Duat, met his own corpse, and was reborn on the eastern horizon, ready for a new day.

How did the Amduat play out? We explore…

2017.8.82 Amduat

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The Hours of the Amduat (from Hornung, 1999)

1

Hour 1, Rejoicing.

2

Hour 2, the Netherworld Itself.

3

Hour 3, the Waters of Osiris.

4

Hour 4, the Desert of Rosetjau.

5

Hour 5, the Intersections and the Pit of Sokar (bottom left).

6

Hour 6, the Depths: Re’s corpse lies at right-middle, protected by serpents.

7

Hour 7, Great Danger: Enemies are Punished (top), Apophis (centre) is restrained and dismembered.

8

Hour 8, Order is Restored; the Gates are guarded.

9

Hour 9, the Crew of the Solar Barque (left); the entourage of Re.

10

Hour 10, the Cavern of the Drowned; goddesses with light-bearing serpents stand at bottom-right.

11

Hour 11, the Serpents (Isis and Nepthys) and the avatars of Neith prepare the way.

12

Hour 12, Re (left) reaches his destination: Khepri (far-right) raises the solar orb into the sky. Osiris (bottom-right) remains in the Underworld. The gods rejoice at the victory.

Bibliography

Erik Hornung, The Ancient Egyptian Books of the Afterlife, 1999

Erik Hornung, Texte zum Amduat, 1987.

Erik Hornung, Valley of the Kings: Horizon of Eternity, 1990.

Emily Teeter, Religion and Ritual in Ancient Egypt, 2011.