A few weeks ago the kids and I went to an exhibit at the British Museum focused on the ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead. Here is a link to a British Museum blog describing the tradition of the Book of the Dead. The curator can discuss the details so much more knowledgeably than I can. I’ll just focus on what I saw and thought.

Due to the crowds, I didn’t enjoy this exhibit as much as I had hoped. The exhibit was housed in a rabbit warren of smallish galleries constructed on a platform over the floor of the Reading Room, and we went on nearly the last day. And because of the delicate nature of the papyrus, lighting was kept to a minimum. But I wanted to see the exhibit because I am a big fan of Elizabeth Peters’ Amelia Peabody mysteries and wanted to see some of the artifacts that turn up in those books.

Despite the crowds, I’m glad I went. There were many versions of the Book of the Dead, and it was interesting to see them first hand. The scene I am most familiar with from references in the mysteries is the weighing of the heart against a feather, so I noticed those the most. There were many charming examples to see. At the end of the exhibit was an amazing display of an unusually long version stretching 30 or 40 feet around the curved perimeter of the reading room. Breathtaking.

 

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