The Quest for Immortality
Tomb of Thutmose III
Amduat Hours 9, 10, 11


Burial Chamber of Thutmose III

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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 9
Re's boat is preceded by his crew of oarsmen. The sun god brings more provisions for those living in the afterworld: clothing, symbolized by red hieroglyphs for cloth; and food, represented by stalks of wheat held by the gods of the fields at right. In the bottom row, three baskets topped by deities hold infinite supplies of bread and beer. Fire-spewing cobras protect the sun and illuminate his path through the nocturnal darkness. (back to top)
Oarsmen
Oarsmen

Fire-spewing cobras
Fire-spewing cobras
Hour 10
For Egyptians, those who drowned in the Nile were of special concern. In the lowest row at left, the god Horus assures that the figures drifting in the primeval waters will find bliss in the afterlife even though they had not received proper burial. In the middle row, barques containing the souls of Osiris and the falcon god Sokar appear in front of the sun boat, along with bodyguards whose heads are in the shape of sun disks. In the upper row, deities protect the red solar disk, the eye of the sun. (back to top)
The blessed drowned
The blessed drowned

The protection of sunlight
The protection of sunlight
Hour 11
In preparation for sunrise, the god Atum at the upper left holds a winged serpent who is about to devour ten stars symbolizing the ten hours of the night that have elapsed. The sun god's boat in the middle row now bears a red sun disk on its bow. It is preceded by twelve men carrying the protective serpent believed to encircle the world. The semicircular shapes in the bottom row are pits into which knife-wielding goddesses have tossed the dismembered bodies of the sun god's enemies. This gruesome punishment was thought to explain the blood-red color of the rising sun. (back to top)
Atum, god of creation
Atum, god of creation

The snake of time
The snake of time
Sarcophagus lid of Nitocris,
Twenty-sixth Dynasty, 664-525 BC
red granite
The Egyptian Museum, Cairo

Nitocris, depicted lying mummiform on the lid of her coffin in a style typical of the period, was a daughter of King Psamtik I (664-610 BC). She was symbolically "married" to the god Amun. In this powerful role, Nitocris served as a high priestess and royal surrogate for the king. The positioning of this sarcophagus in this exhibition mirrors the location of the sarcophagus of Thutmose III in his burial chamber. Both sarcophagi are red, a color with solar connections. (back to top)
Sarcophagus lid of Nitocris
Amduat Hours: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12
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