The Egyptian Book of the Dead - A Guide to the Underworld


Kelly Macquire
published on 05 December 2021

The Egyptian Book of the Dead, or better translated The Book of the Coming Forth by Day or Spells for Going Forth by Day is a collection of spells that help a deceased soul navigate the afterlife and make it to the Field of Reeds, or paradise. The spells detail what is to be expected after death, and give the knowledge required to reach paradise, so basically like a personalised guide to the underworld.

Every copy of the Book of the Dead was different, created for a specific person, like a manual, to guide them after death. This manual helped the deceased so they knew where to go, how to address certain gods, what to say in numerous different situations, and how to finally reach the Field of Reeds, which was a continuation of life on earth. Having a set of spells telling you what you needed to know was considered to be very helpful.

There was only one spell that every single copy seems to have had, and that was what is now known as Spell 125. Spell 125 describes the judging of the heart by Osiris in the Hall of Truth (also known as the Hall of Two Truths). As it was vital that the soul pass the weighing of the heart in order to gain paradise, knowing what to say and how to act before Osiris, Thoth, Anubis, and the Forty-Two Judges was considered the most important information the deceased could arrive with. The soul would be guided to the Hall of Truth by Anubis where they would make the Negative Confession, which was a list of 42 sins that the soul could honestly say they had never indulged in.



0:00​ Introduction
0:58 What is the Book of the Dead?
2:06 History and Development of the Book of the Dead
3:52 What was Written in the Book of the Dead?
5:35 Spell 152 From the Book of the Dead
8:47 Outro

Egyptian Book of the Dead
Ancient Egyptian Literature
The Negative Confession
Field of Reeds (Aaru)
Ancient Egyptian Religion
The Coffin Texts
Egyptian Afterlife - The Field of Reeds—-the-field-of-reeds/

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The music used in this recording is the intellectual copyright of Michael Levy, a prolific composer for the recreated lyres of antiquity, and used with the creator's permission. Michael Levy's music is available to stream at all the major digital music platforms. Find out more on:

Cesar Ojeda
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About the Author

Kelly Macquire
Kelly is a graduate from Monash University who has completed her BA (Honours) in Ancient History and Archaeology, focussing on iconography and status in Pylos burials. She has a passion for mythology and the Aegean Bronze Age.

Cite This Work

APA Style

Macquire, K. (2021, December 05). The Egyptian Book of the Dead - A Guide to the Underworld. World History Encyclopedia. Retrieved from

Chicago Style

Macquire, Kelly. "The Egyptian Book of the Dead - A Guide to the Underworld." World History Encyclopedia. Last modified December 05, 2021.

MLA Style

Macquire, Kelly. "The Egyptian Book of the Dead - A Guide to the Underworld." World History Encyclopedia. World History Encyclopedia, 05 Dec 2021. Web. 25 May 2024.