Monday, September 18, 2023

STaTbS21D Project: Synoptic Edition of Book of the Dead Spell Sources from the 21st Dynasty

An important number of Egyptian funerary papyri have been published since the late nineteenth century, and growing particularly within the last two decades, favored by enhanced methodological approaches in the Book of the Dead studies area. To that endeavor have added up material particularly, among others, the series: Handschriften des Altägyptischen Totenbuches [HAT] (born from the Totenbuch Projekt at Bonn University, with 15 sources published so far); Totenbuchtexte [TbT] (with 12 volumes published to date, comprising 87 spells, produced here at the University of Basel, within the project Synoptische Textausgabe nach Quellen des Neuen Reiches); and Book of the Dead Saite Through Ptolemaic Periods [SPBDStudies] (having 10 volumes published, including 144 spells). Yet, a large number of papyri from the Third Intermediate Period, and particularly the 21st Dynasty, which include rare spells and vignettes, remain unpublished. 

The current project aims partly to cover this gap, by means of a synoptic study of selected Book of the Dead spells from 21st Dynasty sources. The goal is to better understand variability within the funerary compositions, and to shed light on key evidence regarding their transmission and editorial practices from the end of the New Kingdom to the beginnings of the Third Intermediate Period.

As a complement, it provides the Egyptological community with edited and digitalized Book of the Dead spell sources from the end of the New Kingdom and the beginning of the Third Intermediate Period (particularly the 21st Dynasty). 

The incentive to this research endeavour comes from a recently finished project, the Book of the Dead papyrus Havana edition, published in 2021 in the series Handschriften des altägyptischen Totenbuches (HAT) by Harrassowitz, and whose editorial peculiarities (the papyrus’) turned the attention into this direction.

A broader scope project on Book of the Dead sources from the New Kingdom is in progress, by professors Günther Lapp & Barbara Lüscher in the University of Basel (Synoptische Textausgabe nach Quellen des Neuen Reiches). Our project will revisit Ramesside sources only as a starting point to compare and trace the origins of 21st Dynasty versions of selected spells.

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