Oldest map of the underworld discovered: Etchings on Egyptian coffin show how the dead had to get past lake of fire and knife-wielders on 4,000-year-old ‘map for the soul’
- Burial shaft found in 2012 is home to the oldest cop of ‘The Book of Two Ways’
- Experts have dated this map of the underworld 4,000 years old
- Etchings also reveal it is an elite woman, not a overlord, who was buried there
Etchings on an ancient Egyptian coffin have been identified as the oldest copy of a ‘map for the soul’.
‘The Book of Two Ways’ was meant to help the deceased navigate through a dangerous landscape of fiery lakes and knife wielding demons to make it to the realm of Osiris.
The burial shaft housing the coffin was unearthed in 2012, but has now been found to have been constructed 4,000 years ago.
The engravings have also revealed the coffin’s inhabitant is not an overlord, but an elite woman.
A burial shaft, unearthed in 2012, is home to a coffin inscribed with ‘The Book of Two Ways’, an illustrated guide of the underworld. Now, archaeologists have deemed this ‘map for the soul’ as the oldest in history, as it is said to be 4,000 years old
The discoveries were made by a professor in the Department of Archaeology at KU Leuven and director of the archaeological project at Dayr al-Barsha (Middle Egypt), Harco Williams.
‘The Book of Two Ways’ refers to two paths that zig zag a dangerous route through obstacles and demonic entities towards ‘Rostau’ or the realm of Osiris.
It was believed that anyone who laid on the body of Osiris would never die.
And now it is determined that the etching found on the side of the coffin is the oldest copy known to man.
‘The Book of Two Ways’ refers to two paths that zig zag a dangerous route through obstacles and demonic entities towards ‘Rostau’ or the realm of Osiris
Prior to this recent identification, it was believed that the coffin was home to Djehutinakht I, who was an ancient Egyptian ‘Overlord of the Hare nome’, as he was mentioned in the inscriptions, reported Ancient Origins.
But this latest study suggests the coffin was inhabited by the body of an elite female called Ankh.
The ancient map for the dead is etched in two wood panels and although versions have been found on other coffins, this is the oldest in history.
Written for Middle Kingdom officials and their subordinates, copies of the archaic text have also been found on tomb walls, papyri, mummy masks, and in other coffins.
The ancient book is part of a larger work known as The Coffin Texts, which includes 1,185 spells, incantations, and religious writings on the afterlife. — which is also part of ‘The Book of the Dead’ (pictured)
The ancient book is part of a larger work known as The Coffin Texts, which includes 1,185 spells, incantations, and religious writings on the afterlife. — which is also part of ‘The Book of the Dead’.
‘The Book of the Dead’ is an Egyptian manuscript, up to 20 meters in length, of magical spells written on papyrus that were commissioned by families upon the death of a loved one to guide them on their hazardous journey into the afterlife.