Funerary Compositions

Astronomical figures
   
Beginning with KV 17, the vaulted ceilings of burial chambers in several Rameside royal tombs were decorated with figures representing constellations of the northern and southern horizons [15604]. Other figures represented the decans, the stars used to herald the occurrence of the three ten-day-long intervals into which each month was divided [16208].     15604 16208
Books of the Day and the Night
   
The arched figure of the sky goddess Nut frames texts describing the sun god's journey across the sky from sunrise to sunset [15592, 15593] and the nightly journey within the goddess's body (which begins by her "swallowing" him [15596]) until rebirth at dawn [15591].     15592 15593 15596 15591
Book of the Heavenly Cow
   
This text describes how Ra's daughter Hathor averted destruction of mankind. The principal image is a large cow supported by the god Shu. The first occurrence of this composition is inside the outermost gilded shrine of Tutankhamen. The best-preserved version in the Valley of the Kings is in side chamber Je of KV 17 (Sety I) [15465].     15465
Book of Nut
   
Other than in the Osireion at Abydos, this text is found only on the south half of the ceiling of the burial chamber J of Rameses IV (KV 2) [10533]. The god of the air Shu is shown supporting the arched figure of the sky goddess Nut, separating her from the god of the earth, Geb.     10533
Star Clocks
   
The measurement of time by means of celestial phenomena played an important role in funerary texts and decoration. One mechanism seen on the ceilings of royal tombs in the latter half of Dynasty 20 (KV 9, KV 1, KV 6) shows men kneeling beneath grids containing stars [15570]. Beside each figure is the name of the star that appears at a particular point on the human target at a given hour of the night. There is usually one image and name for each month of the year.     15570
Other Funerary Texts
   
In addition to compositions dealing with the sun god's journeys, texts of a non-royal nature also are found in the royal tombs of the New Kingdom and in contemporary private tombs.    

Published or last modified on: May 1, 2003
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