Long lost 'Book of the Dead' discovered in newly-unearthed cemetery

Long lost 'Book of the Dead' discovered in newly-unearthed cemetery

Archaeologists found the remains of this mummy in a recently-discovered ancient cemetery

(The Egyptian Ministry of Tourism & Antiquities)

You might think that once you’re dead, you no longer have to worry about maps and directions (that’s one silver lining, at least).

Well, no such luck for the Ancient Egyptians, who were buried with detailed guides on how to navigate the underworld.

These so-called “Books of the Dead” were filled with spells and instructions, and considered a form of supernatural “travel insurance”, Sara Cole, an antiquities expert at the J. Paul Getty Museum in LA, told the New York Times.

Now, it’s emerged that archaeologists excavating a 3,500-year-old cemetery in Egypt have discovered one of these texts; well-preserved and measuring a whopping 13 to 15 metres in length.

The journey to the afterlife was thought to be pretty arduous, so this book – placed alongside the deceased in their grave – was meant to help the spirit find its way there, John Taylor, the British Museum's Curator of Ancient Egypt and Sudan, said in a blog post back in 2010.

The scroll wasn’t the only treasure to be found at the Tuna al-Gebel cemetery in central Egypt, according to the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities.

Experts also discovered a number of mummies, including one belonging to the daughter of a high priest, and another belonging to a female singer.

They also unearthed canopic jars that once contained organs of the dead, the ministry said in a statement. And the remains of stone sarcophagi, which held the wooden coffins of the deceased.

Canopic jars would have held organs extracted during the mummification process(The Egyptian Ministry of Tourism & Antiquities)

Finding a copy of the "Book of the Dead" isn’t hugely uncommon. However, it’s very rare to find one still in the grave where it was buried.

Still, Foy Scalf, an Egyptologist at the University of Chicago, pointed out in an email to Live Sciencethat no pictures have been released of the newly-unearthed papyrus, and the ministry failed to provide much detail on them.

“Without photographs, it is hard to say more, and it is customary to wait for some form of official publication to form solid assessments,” Scarf admitted.

Meanwhile, Lara Weiss, an expert on the "Book of the Dead", told the same publication that if the scroll really is “that long and well-preserved,” then it’s “certainly a great and interesting find”.

We just hope the scroll's owner managed to make it to the afterlife before the archaeologists pinched their instructions.

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