The Book of the Dead

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Why was the Book of the Dead important to ancient Egyptians?

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The Egyptian Book of the Dead was extremely important to the people of ancient Egypt because it contains the necessary instructions and spells to help their souls navigate the tests and travels of the afterlife. The Book of the Dead remains important to the Egyptians today as a piece of their cultural heritage.

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To understand why the Book of the Dead was and is so important to the people of Egypt, we have to know what the Book of the Dead is and how it was used.

Ancient Egyptians had a vigorous, detailed belief system about what happened to people after they died. Their souls traveled into the afterlife, and they needed guidance along the journey. This is what the Book of the Dead was designed to provide.

The Book of the Dead, which developed over several centuries but became especially popular even among the common people at the time of the New Kingdom (about 1570–1069 BC), was a collection of scrolls copied and decorated by scribes and placed in the tomb of a recently deceased person. The Book of the Dead contains a series of spells and passwords the dead would need as they progressed through the four main stages of the afterlife. At each stage, the gods tested the souls, and the Book of the Dead offered the keys to passing those tests. Souls needed to know exactly what would happen after they entered the underworld (stage 1), were resurrected and spent time with sun god Re (stage 2), faced judgment in the underworld (stage 3), and finally joined the gods (stage 4). The Book of the Dead presents all of this in detail so that souls could be successful in their journey, answer all the questions correctly, and find satisfaction in the afterlife.

We can see, then, why the Book of the Dead was so important to the people of Egypt in ancient times. It was their key to the afterlife, and they relied on it to get them where they wanted to go. Without the information, spells, and answers contained in the book, they feared that their souls might be lost forever. The people of Egypt today still value the Book of the Dead as part of their cultural heritage and as a prime witness to the beliefs and practices of the ancient Egyptians. It even helps explain many aspects of other Egyptian artifacts as well, including the pyramids.

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