Exhibitions: Ancient Egypt's Book of the Dead in London show

Fri Dec 10, 2010 5:03am EST
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By Isabel Coles

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - The delicate details of the afterlife written down on papyrus by the ancient Egyptians have been unfurled in public at a British Museum show in London.

"Journey Through the Afterlife: Ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead" explores in more detail than ever before the complex theology laid out in the Book of the Dead, an illustrated guide to death and negotiating the perils of the underworld.

The British Museum has gathered together an unrivalled collection of these papyri, many of which have never been on show, not least because they are so delicate.

The exhibition winds through the museum's circular Reading Room in chronological order, from the moment of death to burial, judgment, and finally paradise.

"The main aim really is to give people a deeper understanding of ancient Egyptian beliefs about life after death and to throw more light on their hopes and fears," exhibition curator John Taylor told Reuters.

Mummification -- long the focus of popular Egyptology -- was only the first step on the path to eternal life.

"This exhibition is really meant to be the next stage: what happens after that; after you've been mummified and put in your tomb? What happens to your spirit? We're trying to tell that story," Taylor said.

BEYOND THE GRAVE   Continued...