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An early manuscript - the Book of the Dead of Hepres

The Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology preserves among its manuscripts a large group of fragments of uncertain provenance, containing Book of the Dead formulae for a man named Hepres.

The manuscript dates early in the history of funerary papyri, to the middle years of the Eighteenth Dynasty, about 1400 BC. It includes coloured vignettes, some in a register occupying the upper part of the height of the roll, others occupying the full height of the roll, balanced with columns of hieroglyphs facing right, reading from left to right. This reversal of the rule that you read 'into' the hieroglyphs (signs facing right = read right to left) is a regular, if unexplained feature of New Kingdom (about 1550-1069 BC) and Third Intermediate Period manuscripts.

In 2000-2002 these fragments were the focus of a conservation project to restore as far as possible the original arrangement and sequence. The project was made possible by the National Manuscripts Conservation Fund, providing half of the necessary funds, and by the Friends of the Petrie Museum, who contributed funds for completion of the work on other important New Kingdom Books of the Dead. Treatment was undertaken by Renee Waltham in the facilities provided by the Institute of Archaeology conservation department. The Egyptological support for the project came from Stephen Quirke, curator at the Petrie Museum.

The range of chapters offers an introduction to the custom of writing such Books for the dead in the Eighteenth Dynasty. Sorting and conservation of the groups of fragments had, by the close of the project in spring 2002, given the following groups of chapters - the sequence of these groups is not clear:

Longer chapters and sequences:

click on the picture to see the whole fragment (Book of the Dead of Hepres)

Contents of the Book of the Dead of Hepres

The groups of fragments give the following groups of chapters; the sequencof the groups is not yet known:

Longer chapters and sequences:

Shorter groups

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