- For the more recent book (2007) with the same name by Patricia Cornwell, see Book of the Dead (by Cornwell).
The Book of the Dead was a collection of writings from Ancient Egypt about the afterlife. It included directions, prayings and the like to help the soul of the person to live on the world of the dead.
There are similarities between some parts of this books and the Bible and other religious writings, according to many historians and scholars.
The Egyptian believed that the soul was judged after dying by Anubis and Maat (much like the final Judgement in Christianity, only at different moments). The soul of the person was weighed against the goddess Maat, who was represented by a feather. The soul had to weigh the same as her to enter paradise of the afterlife (much like Heaven). If not, the soul was destroyed.
Anubis was the God associated with mummification and the afterlife in Egyptian mythology. He had a jackal head. Many believe that this was due to the fact that jackals are scavengers.
She was the Goddess of truth, order, law, morality and justice. Her ostrich feather was useful for weighing the soul of the dead. Her male counterpart was Thot, with the same characteristics.
Here is an excerpt of the beginning, the Hymn to Osiris:
"Homage to thee, Osiris, Lord of eternity, King of the Gods, whose names are manifold, whose forms are holy, thou being of hidden form in the temples, whose Ka is holy. Thou art the governor of Tattu (Busiris), and also the mighty one in Sekhem (Letopolis). Thou art the Lord to whom praises are ascribed in the nome of Ati, thou art the Prince of divine food in Anu. Thou art the Lord who is commemorated in Maati, the Hidden Soul, the Lord of Qerrt (Elephantine), the Ruler supreme in White Wall (Memphis). Thou art the Soul of Ra, his own body, and hast thy place of rest in Henensu (Herakleopolis). Thou art the beneficent one, and art praised in Nart...".