The British Museum
- Ancient Egypt
- The tomb-chapel of Nebamun
- Paintings from the Tomb-chapel of Nebamun
- A bottle and a toy: Objects from daily life
- Hunefer, Book of the Dead
- The Rosetta Stone
- History uncovered in conserving the Rosetta Stone
- Egyptian mummy portraits
- Ancient Egyptian coffin prepared for the Book of the Dead exhibition at the British Museum
- Ancient Egyptian coffin mask conserved for the Book of the Dead exhibition at the British Museum
- An ancient Egyptian scribal palette in the Book of the Dead exhibition at the British Museum
- Ancient Egyptian baboon deity conserved for the Book of the Dead exhibition at the British Museum
- Ancient Egyptian papyrus in the Book of the Dead Exhibition
- Ancient Egyptian coffin panel prepared for the Book of the Dead exhibition at the British Museum
- Gebelein Man: virtual autopsy, exploring a natural mummy from early Egypt
Preparing pieces of papyrus ready for display in the exhibition Journey through the afterlife: ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead. © Trustees of the British Museum. Created by British Museum.
Want to join the conversation?
- How common are copies of the "Book of the Dead"? How much variation is there in the text? For how many centuries was this book copied to be used as it was used?(16 votes)
- There is no single "Book of the Dead," because the contents of each Book would vary greatly depending on the individual who commissioned it. For example, known Books vary in length from humble 1 metre versions to lavish, fully-illustrated 40 metre versions.
[Taylor, John H. (Editor), Ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead: Journey through the afterlife. British Museum Press, London, 2010.]
It stands to reason that copies are uncommon, since Books of the Dead were primarily commissioned by the wealthy. The cost of a single Book was roughly half the annual pay of the common laborer. Then figure how many of those copies survived (fully) to the present day, and I would imagine that to have a full Book in a museum collection is a rarity. (See article below in which the discovery of a single page is regarded as 'significant'.)
["Book of the Dead Fragment Found in Australian Museum." CBC News 20 Apr. 2012: 1. Web. 6 Oct. 2013.](20 votes)
- Why did they need to take off the first backing if it was already there to provide support?(4 votes)
- Backings which were put underneath fragile papyri and papers and photos which are acidic can contribute to the rapid deterioration of objects. Conservators have to try to make difficult decisions about how, when, and even if they should try to remove the previous backing, in order to preserve it better and longer. But, of course it can be incredibly tricky--there's little room for mistakes when you are dealing with irreplaceable objects. I thought this was a great article which explained more about conservators' work and reasons to repair and preserve.
- Why do they have to take off the old backing?(3 votes)
- what is the book of the dead used for0:00(3 votes)
- 'Book of the Dead' is a modern term for a collection of magical spells that the Egyptians used to help them get into the afterlife. They imagined the afterlife as a kind of journey you had to make to get to paradise – but it was quite a hazardous journey so you'd need magical help along the way.(4 votes)
- At0:25the narrator mentions that the old Victorian paper backing needs to be removed. Is this paper that was put on the papyrus after it was removed from the the tomb? Is that why the paper is being removed?(3 votes)
- It is most likely acidic, which can make objects, especially paper-type items, deteriorate faster. The more they can try to slow down that destruction, the better, so they use acid-free backings, adhesives, etc. Maybe you have seen acid-free tape, glue, and papers in the arts and crafts or scrapbooking or photography sections of a store? People are advised to store their photographs and important documents in acid-free containers and albums.
Here are a couple of articles which tell more about it:
- What exactly, is a papyrus?(1 vote)
- It's made from the pith of a papyrus plant and is pressed and dried together. It comes from the wetland on the Nile Delta. Here's a video.
- At point1:24in the video clip what is the "fine high quality lining" that is being applied made of?(1 vote)
- would applying water damage the papyrus?(1 vote)
- In a dry climate, like that of Egypt, papyrus is stable, formed as it is of highly rot-resistant cellulose; but storage in humid conditions can result in molds attacking and destroying the material.
- Is the new lining also designed to be able to be removed/replaced at some date in the future? What a stressful, but vital, job!(1 vote)
This is a papyrus Book of the Dead which will be on display in the exhibition Journey through the Afterlife: Ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead Before it goes on display the old Victorian paper backing needs to be removed So Bridget places the papyrus in fume hood and applies strips of paper to protect the front the papyrus is face down and wetted on the table With tracing paper mapping the delicate areas of the papyrus at hand both conservators peel off the top backings the last backing needs to be picked off with tweezers The back of the paper coming off is brown because it was previously painted to blend in with the papyrus Whilst the conservators continue to take off the backing they ensure the papyrus is moist by spraying water on it Picking off the backing took over two hours so to save you time we sped up the process Once the old backing is removed, a fine high quality lining is put on to support it The newly lined papyrus is dried between blotting paper under glass and weights and lies there for several weeks When Helen and Briget are confident the newly lined papyrus has dried they removed the facing that was put on to provide temporary protection Once this is done they examined the result and are pleased with the new lining on the papyrus they will soon get going with the rest of the conservation work that is needed on the papyri featuring in the next major exhibition