The Quest for Immortality
Tomb of Thutmose III
Amduat Hours 5, 6, 8, 12

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 5
The sun god's boat is towed around the secret cavern of Sokar, guarded by a double-headed sphinx. The falcon-headed Sokar clutches the wings of a multiheaded serpent. Together they hold back the hidden chaos that threatens to block the sun god's passage. In the center of the top row is the burial mound of Osiris from which a scarab beetle, symbol of the rejuvenated sun, emerges to help pull the tow rope. (back to top)
Cavern of Sokar
Cavern of Sokar

Burial mounds of Osiris
Burial mounds of Osiris
Hour 6
This is the realm of Sobek, the crocodile god. Here, at midnight, the soul of the sun god Re unites with his corpse, represented by the horizontal figure at far right, and protected by a five-headed serpent. This corpse was also understood to be the body of all those who had died. Thus, the union of Re's soul with his corpse brings light and eternal life to all of the blessed dead. (back to top)
The crocodile god Sobek
The crocodile god Sobek

The corpse of the sun god
The corpse of the sun god
Hour 8
The hours of greatest danger have passed. Here, the sun god Re provides the deceased with shining white linen clothing to wear in the next life. Deities in the top and bottom rows sit on hieroglyphs for cloth, derived from the shape of a loom. (back to top)
Re on a boat
Re as a scarab
Hour 12
This is the hour of the sun god's rebirth. His boat is preceded by the snake known as the "World Encircler," who was brought along in the previous hour. The towline held by gods and goddesses passes through the head of the snake to indicate that the sun god is pulled through the snake's body, from the tail to the mouth, and emerges rejuvenated as the scarab beetle, the sun god's morning manifestation. Shu, god of air, will lift the sun out of the darkness. Mummified Osiris remains in the underworld. In the upper and lower rows, gods raise their hands in jubilation. (back to top)
The world encircler
The World Encircler

Khepri and Shu
Khepri, morning manifestation of the sun god, and Shu, god of air
Thoth, god of writing and knowledge, as a baboon,
New Kingdom?, 1550-1069 BC
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)
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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