The Quest for Immortality
Tomb of Thutmose III
Amduat Hours 1, 2, 3, 4, 7


Burial Chamber of Thutmose III

VR tour help

Decorating the walls of this facsimile of the burial chamber of Thutmose III (1479-1425 BC) is the Amduat, the royal funerary text that describes the dangerous journey the deceased king must make in order to be reborn. United with the sun god, he travels in the boat of the sun through the 12 hours of night, from dusk to dawn.

The hours do not always follow in order, but are positioned as directed in the text, in relation to the movements of the sun.

Hour 1
The first hour begins when the dying sun slips beneath the horizon. The pharaoh unites with the sun god Re and enters the netherworld on his solar boat. He is greeted by gods, goddesses, baboons, and fire-breathing serpents. Re appears in the near right image as a ram-headed figure representing his soul, or ba, and again in the image on the far right as a scarab beetle, symbol of the morning sun. The presence of the beetle in this first hour points out the ultimate objective of the journey, the sun's rebirth. (back to top)
Re, the sun god
Re, the sun god

Khepri, morning manifestation of the sun god
Khepri, morning manifestation of the sun god
Hour 2
Guided by Hathor, the sun god journeys on the river that flows through the netherworld, much like the Nile through Egypt. Boats carrying other gods accompany him through the area, named the Field of Wernes, where the sun god grants lands to the blessed dead. Crops were cultivated in this watery, fertile region, as indicated by the sheaves of wheat held by figures at lower right and the two large ears of grain in the boat ending in cobra heads. According to the hieroglyphic text, crops grew to a super size in the afterworld. (back to top)
Hathor, daughter and protector of the sun god
Hathor, daughter and protector of the sun god

Farmers in the Field of Wernes
Farmers in the Field of Wernes
Hour 3
More boats accompany the sun god through the region of the third hour, named the Waters of Osiris. In the upper row, baboons, the jackal-headed Anubis, and other gods rejoice over the light the sun has brought them. The seated Osiris, lord of the underworld, appears in the lower row, preceded by a cluster of bird-headed gods. With knives in hand, they stand ready to slay enemies of the sun god who lurk in the underworld and threaten to impede his progress. (back to top)
Anubis, god of embalming
Anubis, god of embalming

Destroyers of enemies
Destroyers of enemies
Hour 4
Obstacles to the journey begin to appear, as a zigzag path blocks Re's descent through the Land of Sokar. The waters have dried up, and the sun boat must be towed across a desert. The boat now has snake heads at the bow and stern as it has magically become a serpent that can slither across sand. Deep in the underworld, this region of utter darkness is invisible even to the sun god. In the middle row, ibis-headed Thoth, god of wisdom, hands the eye of the sun (light) to falcon-headed Sokar for safekeeping. Other deities stand ready to thwart enemies of the sun god. (back to top)
Thoth giving the eye of the sun to Sokar
Thoth giving the eye of the sun to Sokar


Hour 7
The sun god Re confronts his archenemy, the serpent Apophis, who swallows the waters carrying the sun boat. Isis and other goddesses hurl magical spells that cut and bind Apophis, destroying his power. In the top row, deities decapitate and punish other enemies. In the bottom row, the god Horus presides over twelve gods and twelve goddesses crowned with stars and symbolizing the twelve hours of the night. (back to top)
Apophis and the goddess Isis
Apophis and the goddess Isis

The god Horus, son of Isis and Osiris
The god Horus, son of Isis and Osiris
Thoth, god of writing and knowledge, as a baboon,
New Kingdom?, 1550-1069 BC
sandstone
The Egyptian Museum, Cairo

The baboon was a principal manifestation of Thoth, god of knowledge and writing, and a guardian of the deceased in the netherworld. Baboons were also associated with the sun god because of their habit of greeting the rising sun with barking. This baboon wears a pectoral with an image of the solar boat around his neck. The eyes and nose are hollow, suggesting that they may once have been inlaid with a precious material. (back to top)
Baboon
Amduat Hours: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12
NGA Home Egypt info Egypt info Egypt info Egypt info Viewpoint #3 Viewpoint #2

terms of use | home | Go to our page on Facebook Go to our page on Twitter