Pyramid Texts are a collection of Ancient Egyptian religious texts from that go back to the time of the Old Kingdom . They depict the Egyptian view of the afterlife , and the ascension of the deceased king into the sky . The oldest known writings in the world that go back to 5000 years , the Pyramid Texts were written upwards . They are also the oldest collection of religious spells known from Ancient Egypt . The passages eventually evolved into the Book of the Dead , or more properly , the Book of the Coming Forth by Day . The collection of the Pyramid Texts forms the basis of much of the later religious theology and literature of Ancient Egypt . Varying selections of spells were carved in all the royal pyramids of the Old Kingdom , particularly the sarcophagus chamber and antechamber . There were some 227 spells in the Pyramid of Unas . Each subsequent pyramid ─though not containing the whole collection of spells─ provided fresh new additions . These spells are called 'utterances' based on the belief that they were meant to be spoken by priests in the course of the royal mortuary rituals . They are usually numbered by their position within
The oldest of these texts come from that Pyramid of Unas at Saqqara . However , the first Pyramid Text that was actually discovered was from the Pyramids of Pepy I , Ibi , and Merenre I . Early analysts attempted to date the text as early as possible; even from the Pre-Dynastic Period . However , today , scholars place the text's origins with the date of the monuments where they reside . Nevertheless , it remains difficult to date the Pyramid Texts that they have aroused much speculation regarding their origin . This is because they were a variety of mortuary texts , without any precedent in the archaeological record . Since the texts were formed from a number of utterances with no common strict narrative sequence associating them together , scholars believed that some of them were not composed specifically to be inscribed in the pyramids . However , it was thought that they might have earlier uses . Proving this supposition are spells such as Utterances 273-4 (which is called the Cannibal Hymn , and which only appears in the Pyramids of Unas and Teti) . Noticeably , these spells refer to aspects of the funerary cult that seem to have been no
Not only were the texts carved on walls but also on the sarcophagus itself , specifically with the Pyramid of Teti . With the Pyramid of Pepy I , the carvings extended beyond the antechamber . Decorating walls of the Pyramid of Pepy II were 675 utterances . During the rule of Pepy II , texts began to be carved on walls of the tombs of queens , such as those of Queens Wedjebten , Neith and Iput . After the Old Kingdom , they even appeared on the walls and coffins of officials .
When working on the Pyramid of Teti , Gaston Maspero discovered some passages of the Pyramid Spells . As early as 1882 , he started publishing translations of the text , beginning with those of King Unas , the last king of the Fifth Dynasty . In 1899 , Kurt Sethe also published some passages of the Pyramid Texts in his "Dictionary of the Egyptian Language" . In 1924 , Louis Spleleers provided another translation of these texts in French . Gustave Jequier had great additions for the texts during his investigation to some archeological sites at Southern Saqqara between 1924 and 1936 . Examining reliefs
In 1951 , Jean Sainte-Fare Garnot and Jean-Philippe Lauer investigated the pyramids erected by the Sixth Dynasty Kings . Later both Lauer and Jean Leclant unearthed more than 2 . 700 spell passages from the Tombs of Teti and Pepy I . Samuel A . B . Mercer rendered a full English translation of the text in 1952 , but it was superseded by a translation of Raymond O . Faulkner . Additionally , it was after Sethe's death that his elaborate notes and translations were published , nearly between 1935 and 1962 .
As for the texts' length , they differ considerably . They were not illustrated and individual spells were not titled , except for Spell 355 , the "Opening the Double Door of the Sky" . The color that was used to outline individual signs was green— hopefully predicting the deceased's regeneration . Each column begins with a notation 'words to be spoken' (but in the Tomb of Unas , this appears only at the beginning of the passage as a whole) .
In all the pyramids , the spells were separated by a hieroglyph that stands for house , (with the sole exception of the Pyramid of Unas , where they are outlined by a horizontal line) . The number of spells Sethe found is 714 , while that of Faulkner is 759 (though with some duplicates) .
There seems no correlation with the text and the four coordinal points . Virtually , Egyptologists are not yet sure in which order the spells should be read . Sethe started with the north wall of the sarcophagus chamber . But , other scholars ─such as Siegfried Schott and Alexandre Piankoff─ thought the texts began at the entrance to the antechamber . It has been assumed that , for very specific reasons , the texts were selected from a larger collection of spells arranged according to a specific point of view . Actually , there is a considerable debate as to the actual use of both the texts and the associated rituals .
The language in which texts were written is antiquated in comparison with other texts of the same period . Highly redundant language is also included . Notably , these texts stand as the earliest example of the retrograde writing , which involves a reverse of the order of columns . Noticeably , Ancient Egyptians avoided involving complete figures of animals and people . It is believed that they did this fearing that such signs might cause harm if resurrected .
The Pyramid Texts mainly focused on the King's resurrection and ascension to the afterworld . In some of the texts , the king boards the solar boat of god Re and passes in his journey through different areas in the sky , meeting several gods . Other texts mention that the king flies up as a bird (such as a falcon or a goose) towards the sky . At other times , the king's ascension towards the sky is done through climbing up the sky's ladder . All the texts meet in the emphasis on the deceased king's eternal life and the location of the sky as the realm of the afterlife .
The Pyramid texts in general were thought to provide some services to the king in his journey towards the sky and in his reception in the world of the afterlife . This is made , as the texts assure , through provisioning the deceased with all possible means including a ladder or ramp , clouds , storms hail , incense , sunlight , and boats . (On earth , the king had needed a boat to travel throughout Egypt along the Nile; in the next world , he would need a boat as well . ) Among the gods who assist the deceased in the journey is god Shu , who carries up the sky . Certain answers that are needed to allow the deceased pass to the afterlife are also involved . Also included are some conversations with gatekeepers and ferryman where the king is given the specific knowledge that he will need in order to name the correct names .
In the texts , there is the earliest known reference to Osiris as the Ruler of the Underworld . They indicate a strong association between the king and god Osiris , especially clear in spell 239 which also contains a reference to the Osiris Legend . Some references to almost all the myth's elements are to be found within this text . It provides a version of the contention of Horus and Seth . The myth of Horus , Isis and Nephthys searching for the murdered god (Osiris) is mentioned . Horus , the son of Osiris , manages to find his father's body and revives him . Not only myths but also some specifically ritualistic texts stand out . There are some references to the 'Opening of the Mouth' ritual .
Although some are still unclear to us , some locations of great importance are involved in the texts , such as the Field of Offerings , the Field of Reeds , the Lake of the Jackal and the Winding Waterway . Though the afterworld is celestial in nature , it is not a very desirable place to dwell . Even god Re himself does not prefer staying there; he waits the time before sunrise when he could taste freedom . The king is also violently driven to this place . Nevertheless , he navigates the waterways of the heavens by boat , which makes him dependent on the efforts of his ferryman .
There texts include several references to different mundane topics . Some of the prayers call for food and provisions; some assert that the king will not lose the power of his limbs , that he will still move , breathe , eat , and copulate in the next world . Also included is a number of problems that can be encountered , among which are the attacks of various supernatural beings . For example , in spell 244 , the "smashing of the red pots" intended to get rid with one's enemies .