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Book of the Dead Found on Well-Preserved, 45-Foot Scroll in Ancient Egyptian Cemetery

Nobody read it aloud!

By Cassidy Ward
Rachel Weisz and Brendon Fraser during the filming of The Mummy

With a title like the Book of the Dead, it’s sure to be light reading. In 1999's The Mummy, librarian Evelyn Carnahan (Rachel Weisz) and adventurer Rick O’Connell (Brendan Fraser) followed a map to the lost city of Hamunaptra in search of ancient treasures. There, they found a book requiring a special key, a key contained in the puzzle box in Evelyn’s possession.

It’s an ancient book made of obsidian, sometimes called the Black Book, containing spells and rituals which could bring the dead back to life and imbue the user with incredible power. Reading from the book, Evelyn accidentally awakens the cursed mummy of Imhotep, unleashing an ancient evil upon the face of the world. Now, here in the real world, archaeologists have uncovered an actual copy of the famed Book of the Dead in an ancient Egyptian cemetery.

Book of the Dead in “Good State of Preservation” Found in Egyptian Cemetery

Archaeologists uncovered a wealth of artifacts from the Tuna al-Gebel cemetery in the Al Gharifa region during a recent season of digging. Excavation of the cemetery began in 2017 and recently recovered thousands of artifacts including amulets, ornaments, clay statues, and stone and wooden sarcophagi and other coffins containing mummies, according to a translated statement from the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities.

RELATED: The Necronomicon Lives? Ancient ‘Book of the Dead’ Scroll Found in Egyptian Tomb

Engraved illustration of fragments of Ancient Egyptian ‘Book of the Dead’

The mummies were described as being in a “good state of preservation” and belonging to priests and other high-ranking officials. Among the remains were those of Ta de Issa, daughter of Irt Harro, the high priest of Thoth in Ashmunin, according to officials. Her remains were interred in an inscribed and colored wooden sarcophagus alongside canopic vessels and a full set of ushabti statues, funerary figures intended to be servants in the afterlife.

Scientists also found a papyrus scroll estimated to be between 13 and 15 meters (43 to 49 feet) long. It is the first complete papyrus scroll to be found in Al-Gharifa and appears to contain portions of the Book of the Dead. That, in and of itself isn’t unusual, the Book of the Dead is a well-known funerary artifact, but its age and condition which was also described as being in a “good state of preservation” makes it an especially exciting find.

We’re certain to learn more as the recently uncovered artifacts undergo additional investigation, and the public will have a chance to see the scroll itself when it goes on display in the Grand Egyptian Museum.

In the meantime, you can learn what not to do in the presence of ancient texts on The Mummy, available from Universal Entertainment.

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