Isis and Nephthys Praising the Morning Sun and Osiris-Ra
Updated: Jun 21, 2022
Type: Painted papyrus
Date: c. 1250 BC, Dynasty 19, reign of Ramesses II
Findspot: Tomb of Ani, Thebes
Size: Width 42cm (including modern frame); Length 61.2cm (including modern frame)
Current location: British Museum, London
Object number: EA10470,2
Reproduction Print Reference: DP06B
This is the first vignette that appears in the 24m long copy of the ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead buried with Ani, a Royal Scribe and Granary Overseer, who died during the reign of Ramesses II in around 1250 BC. It illustrates the words of the ‘Hymn to Ra’ and represents the beginning of the sun’s daily journey through the sky.
Across the top of the scene stretches a blue, arched form of the hieroglyph pet “sky”, beneath which is the ankh symbol for “life” with two arms lifting a red sun disk into the heavens. The ankh stands upon a djed, a pillar-like symbol linked to the god Osiris and the concept of stability. Combined, the sun disk, ankh and djed create a signal motif embodying the concept of “endurance” and merges the gods Osiris and Ra together to create the deity Osiris-Ra.
On either side of the Osiris-Ra motif are the goddesses Isis and Nephthys, kneeling in a posture of adoration upon the hieroglyph nub “gold”. The goddesses and their thrones are nestled within the hieroglyph dju “mountain”, and the entire vignette is framed by a representation of the desert. Six baboons can be seen in this desert region worshipping the rising sun. The association of baboons with the rising sun comes from the observations of the animals barking at and basking in the morning sun to warm up.
The Egyptian Book of the Dead The Book of Going Forth by Day (Goelet et al, 2015)