Guidebook to the Ancient Egyptian afterlife

In ancient Egypt, the end of life marked the start of a challenging journey – one that could be smoothed using the spells compiled in a Book of the Dead. Rob Attar explores how these books were used to ensure a speedy and successful path through the next world

A reconstruction of an extract from the Book of the Dead depicting an embalming scene. (Photo by De Agostini Picture Library via Getty Images)

This article was first published in the December 2010 issue of BBC History Magazine

Wearing clean clothes and white sandals, you stand in a long hall supported by columns. On a throne at the far end of the room you see the figure of Osiris, the god of the underworld. You are surrounded by 42 gods, terrifying mummified figures including the Swallower of shades, the Bone-breaker and the Eater of entrails.

Want to read more?

Become a BBC History Magazine subscriber today to unlock all premium articles in The Library

Unlock now