1. Introduction

Under the provisional inventory number Provv. 6133, the Museo Egizio in Turin houses a number of papyrus fragments1 (right-hand top fragment: 7.5 cm x 11 cm; right-hand middle fragment: 5 cm x 11 cm; right-hand lower fragment: 3 cm x 4.5 cm; left-hand upper fragment: 3.5 cm x 4.5 cm; left-hand lower fragment: 1.5 cm x 3.5 cm), light brown in colour. They are inscribed with texts in cursive hieroglyphs and decorated with several vignettes, drawn in black ink, in the typical style of Book of the Dead vignettes from the Ptolemaic Period. The writing as well as the drawings were executed with an extremely high degree of precision and fineness, with a lot of attention to detail. Many features are only fully visible with the help of a magnifying glass. Although only a small section of the complete papyrus is preserved nowadays, enough has survived to allow one to note that the overall layout and the arrangement of the texts and depictions are extraordinary. The present contribution to the Rivista del Museo Egizio intends to present these fragments with some suggestions as to their nature and to ensure their future accessibility to scholars for further study.2

Nothing is recorded about the acquisition of the object, besides the fact that it was acquired after 1824. In the museum database, these fragments are ascribed to a hypocephalus. Although, at first glance, the curved lines and the arrangement of the texts and vignettes are indeed remindful of those of a hypocephalus, a closer examination argues against this, as the following investigation will show.

As it appears today (Fig. 1), the whole is composed of an “inner field” divided into registers. These registers contain vignettes with inscriptions and spells arranged in either columns or lines, separated from the figures by either single or double lines, drawn in black ink. To the right of this preserved “inner field” is a single column of text. The “outer circle” is composed of a mixture of figures and inscriptions, with the exterior black line used as a base line for the orientation of the figures and texts. Since only the right side of the inner vignettes and the surrounding columns/fields is preserved, it is not possible to determine whether the whole composition was symmetrical. It is likewise impossible to determine the2-3 original layout and shape of the composition with any certainty. A tentative reconstruction based on the investigation below suggests, however, that the original layout was oval, as the bend of the lines is not congruent with an exact circle.

Recto of P. Turin Provv. 6133 as currently mounted. Scan by Museo Egizio.

Recto of P. Turin Provv. 6133 as currently mounted. Scan by Museo Egizio.

The following study is divided into five main sections, the first dealing with the vignettes and inscriptions of the “inner field”; the second with the single column of text; the third with the “outer circle”; and the fourth with the annotation visible on the upper right-hand fragment. A general discussion of the possible content and nature of these papyrus fragments concludes the article.

2. The vignettes and inscriptions of the “inner field”

Only a small section of what I refer to as the “inner field” is preserved today. The upper register consists of a vignette showing the deceased standing with his arms raised in adoration, most likely in front of one or more deities. Although the figure is mostly destroyed, it appears as if he is also shown with kA-arms on his head. Behind the deceased is a pictorial double writing of anx Dd wAs nb “all life, duration, and power”, and above are three vultures and three snakes, i.e. animals that typically occur on magical papyri.3 At the top edge of the vignette, traces of ink are preserved, which might belong to the outstretched wing of a hovering vulture,4 as can be regularly seen in temple scenes, for instance. All of this must be understood as a symbol of an all-encircling protection,5 a motif that is discussed in more detail below, in the section on the “outer circle”.

The lower part of an inscription is preserved in the upper right corner, behind the depiction of the deceased and above the three vultures and the three snakes. It reads as follows:

1[…] n nb.w/nb.wt Sma.w mH.w/tA.wj 2[…] wnn.w m 3[…aq(?)]=k6r mrj jb=k 4[…] D.t(?)7=k m Xr.t-nTr1 […] of/for the lords/ladies of Upper and Lower Egypt/the Two Lands8 2 […] the ones who exist in/on […] 3[…] may you [enter(?)] according to what your heart desires 4 […] your body(?) in the necropolis.”

Below, separated by a black line, is the beginning of another text that is also arranged in columns. Apart from a presumed n-sign at the beginning of the right-hand column, everything is lost.

The lower register depicts the deceased kneeling, his hands raised again in adoration. Part of an inscription providing his name and the final signs of the name of his mother are still preserved:

1[…] 2[…] 9d-Hr msj.n 3[6glm]y mAa(.t)-xrw 1 […] 2 […] Djedher, whom 3 [Teglem]y, justified, has born”

Below this vignette, the beginnings of two lines of text are visible, which are, however, too fragmentarily preserved to allow a reconstruction of the context or an identification of possible parallels:

1h(A) Wsjr(?) […] 2wy.t anx[…] 1 Hail Osiris(?) […] 2 live[…]”

Below this section, separated by a black line, there seems to be another vignette. However, traces of ink are only preserved in the upper corner and might belong to an accompanying inscription with the -sign still partially visible.

3. The single text column and its continuation

The spells inscribed on the fragments – at least on those of which enough is left to allow their identification – can all be ascribed to the Book of the Dead.4 The long column running along the right side of the “inner field” is part of Spell 1 of the Book of the Dead. This column – combined with the decoration of the “outer circle” – allows the two larger fragments to be placed in their original position. The text can be restored and read as follows (the underlined passages are not attested in the parallels):

[…aq m-xt prj.t jn Wsjr 9d-Hr] mAa-xrw msj.n 6glmy mAa(.t)-xrw jnD-Hr=k Wsjr kA[-jmnt.t j.n 9Hwtj n] nsw.t nHH jm9nnk nTr-aA pAy r-gs dp.t-nTr aHA[.n=j Hr=k…]10“[…Entering after going forth by the Osiris of Djedher11], justified, whom Teglemy12, justified, has born. ‘Hail to you Osiris, bull [of the West’, says Thoth] there [to] the king of the nHH-eternity, ‘I am the great god, that one, beside the god’s bark. [I have] fought [for you…]’”

The spell continues at a later point with two columns (hieroglyphs oriented to the left) preserved on another two fragments which my reconstruction places in the central part of this manuscript, inside the “inner field”. These can be positioned within the text as follows:

[…jnk wa m nn n nTr.w DADA.t smAa-xrw Wsjr r xftj.w=f hrw pwy n wDa-md.wt n-wj wnDw.w(t)=k Wsjr jnk wa m nn n nTr.w ms.w Nw.t smA xftj.w n.w wrD-jb xnr sbj.w Hr=s n-wj wnDw.w(t)=k 1r aHA.n=j Hr=k sbj].n(=j) Hr rn=k nnk 9Hwtj [smAa-xrw] 1r [r xftj.w=f hrw pwy n wDa-md.wt m] Hw.t-sr wr m Jwn[w…]13“[…I am one of these gods of the council, who justify Osiris against his enemies (on) this day of judging. I belong to your people, Osiris. I am one of these gods whom Nut has born, who slay the enemies of the one with weary heart and who imprison those who rebelled against it/her(?). I belong to your people, Horus. I have fought for you.] (I) have [defended/stood up] for your name. I am Thoth [who has justified] Horus [against his enemies (on) this day of judging in] the great house of the magistrate in Helio[polis…]”5

The two columns to the left of those belonging to Spell 1 of the Book of the Dead are oriented in the opposite direction.

The surviving text could belong to any of the following four different formulas: Book of the Dead Spells 18, 19, or 20, or the First Letter of Breathing. The three Book of the Dead spells are very similar in their content, with Spell 18 consisting of a series of invocations to Thoth intended to justify the deceased in front of ten netherworld tribunals. Spells 19 and 20 are similar in content and likewise connected with the tribunals, bearing the title “Formula/Another formula for a garland of justification” in the later versions.14

Book of the Dead Spell 18 and the First Letter of Breathing contain the two relevant passages, but the amount of text between them is too long and does not fit the arrangement or length of the columns on the fragments from the Museo Egizio.15 The two remaining possibilities, Book of the Dead Spells 19 and 20, do fit the length of the columns in this area of the Turin papyrus. The passage can thus be reconstructed as follows (the texts of Book of the Dead Spells 19 and 20 in this section are identical; the passages preserved on the Turin fragments are underlined):

Book of the Dead Spell 19 […m-bAH DADA.t aA.t jmj.w 4xm grH pfy n] jx.t-xA[wj m 4xm m-bAH DADA.t aA.t jmj.w P 8p grH pfj n] smn jwaw 1r m [jx.t jt]=f Wsjr [m-bAH DADA.t aA.t jmj.w xbs-tA aA.t jmj 9dw…]

Book of the Dead Spell 20 […m-bAH DADA.t aA.t jmj.w 4xm grH pfj n] jx.t-xA[wj m 4xm m-bAH DADA.t aA.t jmj.w P 8p grH pfj n] smn jwaw 1r m [jx.wt jt]=f Wsjr [m-bAH DADA.t aA.t jmj.w N-Ar=f grH pfj n Ssp 1r msxn…]16

Translation of the passage in Book of the Dead Spell 19 or 20: “[…in the presence of the great council, which is in Letopolis, (on) that night of] the night offerings [in Letopolis, in the presence of the great council, which is in Pe and Dep, (on) that night of] confirming the heritage of Horus from/namely [the things/possessions of] his [father] Osiris [in the presence of the great council which is in the great hacking up of the earth which is in Busiris… / which is in Naref (on) that night of Horus receiving the abode…]”

Some of the versions omit m-bAH DADA.t aA.t.17 Due to the estimated size of the lacuna – based on the reconstruction of Book of the Dead Spell 1 above – it seems very likely that this was also the case in the Turin papyrus.

If we assume that the original arrangement of the manuscript was symmetrical, it seems very likely that Book of the Dead Spell 19 or 20 occupied the single column to the left of the “inner field” and was then continued in the inner section just like Book of the Dead Spell 1 on the right-hand side. Book of the Dead Spell 1 is oriented from left to right, the signs facing the inner section. The hieroglyphs of Book of the Dead Spell 19 or 20 are oriented in the opposite direction and are hence the mirror image of Book of the Dead Spell 1. Thus, if we assume that Book of the Dead Spell 19 or 20 was the left-side equivalent of Spell 1 on the right side, both facing the “inner field”, this would explain the orientation of the signs.

4. Vignettes and inscriptions of the “outer circle”

4.1. Some general remarks on protective entities

The “outer circle” – if we assume that the original arrangement was oval – is dominated by a group of demons or divine entities, some of whom hold knives in their hands, reminding one of the typical depictions of apotropaic figures in the Book of the Dead that are responsible for guarding the gates or6 passageways of/to the underworld, such as Book of the Dead Spells 144–147.18 These depictions are also reminiscent of the so-called vignette of Book of the Dead Spell 182. In this spell, Thoth plays a prominent role in the protection and resurrection of Osiris. In P. BM EA 10010, dating to the Twenty-first Dynasty, Book of the Dead Spell 182 is followed by a vignette showing the funerary bed with the mummy of Osiris, flanked by Isis and Nephthys, and the four sons of Horus. Additional protection is provided by a series of figures holding knives, serpent staffs and lizards in their hands in the registers above and below.19

The specific row of entities in the particular order they appear in on the Turin fragments is attested elsewhere. I would first like to draw attention to some of these parallels – as far as they are known to me – before going into a more detailed discussion of the guardians of the Turin papyrus. According to the classification developed by Carolina Teotino, the divinities drawn on our fragments are part of the so-called “group of gatekeepers” or “Torwächtergruppe”.20 As noted above, these protective figures appear in various numbers and in different orders in a multitude of texts and on diverse objects. However, the specific arrangement of the group of entities present on the Turin fragments is part of a so-called canonised form that seems to have developed at some point in the later phase of Egyptian history. The demons are attested in this fixed order on the following coffins and sarcophagi (listed chronologically):21

  • – Left side22 of the box of the sarcophagus of Psusennes I (Cairo JE 87297; originally made for Merenptah) Twenty-first/Nineteenth Dynasty; Tanis; with the names of the demons.23
  • – Left side of the box of the coffin of Horaawesheb (BM EA 6666); Twenty-second Dynasty; Thebes; no mention of the demons’ names.24
  • – Left side of the box of the coffin of Ankhefenkhonsu (BM EA 30721); Twenty-second Dynasty; Thebes; with names.25
  • – Left side of the box of the coffin in the Museo del Vicino Oriente in Rome (E 1000); Twenty-fifth Dynasty; Thebes; with names.26
  • – Left half of the vaulted lid of the coffin of Ankhefkhonsu (Cairo CG 41001bis); around 664–332 BC; tomb of the Month priests in Deir el-Bahari; with names.27
  • – Right side of the box of the sarcophagus of Ahmose (Ermitage 766); Twenty-sixth Dynasty; Giza, tomb LG 83; with names.28
  • – Second register on the left side of the box of the sarcophagus of Khafy (Cairo JE 49531); Ptolemaic Period; Saqqara; with names.29
  • – Second register on the left side of the box of the sarcophagus of Ankhhapi (Cairo CG 29301; JE 17249); Ptolemaic Period; Saqqara; with names.30
  • – Upper register on the left side of the box of the sarcophagus of Ankhhapi, son of Tefnakht (Cairo CG 29303; JE 15011); Ptolemaic Period; Saqqara; with names.31
  • – First register on the left side of the box of the sarcophagus of Djedher (Cairo CG 29304; JE 15039); Ptolemaic Period; Saqqara; with names.32
  • – Right side of the lid of the sarcophagus of Wennofer (Cairo CG 29310; JE 8394), distributed across two registers (7th and 8th); Ptolemaic Period; Saqqara; with names.33

The sarcophagus of Psusennes (Merenptah) constitutes the earliest known example of the canonised form of this group.34 This is also the only known example restricted to the royal sphere; later on, this decorative programme became available for private individuals. In addition to their widely attested canonised arrangement, these demons are also present, in diverse constellations and group sizes, on different media. Although in a bad state of preservation, several of the entities can still be identified on the sarcophagus of Hornakht from Tanis dating to the Twenty-second Dynasty.35 Furthermore, an unpublished Ptolemaic Period coffin belonging to one Horkawy, of unknown provenance (Brussels E. 7042), displays a number of protective figures, including some of those on the Turin fragments.36 Several of the demons also appear on the lid of the sarcophagus of Panehemisis from Saqqara (Vienna, Kunsthistorisches Museum ÄS 4),37 dating to 199–100 BC, and on the lid of the sarcophagus of Horemheb (Cairo TR 22/1/21/3–4).38 Also worth mentioning are the depictions of several of these protective beings on the Twenty-sixth Dynasty naos of Amasis (Leiden AM 107) from Sais.39 Finally, some of them are included in the procession of divine and protective7 figures in the soubassement of the third eastern Osiris chapel in the temple of Dendera.40

In addition to these examples, the apotropaic figures appear on tomb walls from the New Kingdom onwards and are also placed as actual figurines inside tombs.41 They can be found on the walls of several tombs in the Queens’ Valley and in the burial chamber of Ramesses III (KV 11).42 Some are also present in the vestibule of the tomb of Psusennes I (Twenty-first Dynasty) in Tanis.43

TT 410, the tomb of Mutirdis from the Twenty-sixth Dynasty, constitutes an example of the appearance of the canonised form of these entities on tomb walls. Two rows of seven chapels, each with the relevant protective figure or pair of figures inside, can be seen in the bottom section of the longitudinal east and west walls of the sarcophagus chamber.44 According to Assmann,

“die Darstellung der 14 Kapellen an den Längswänden bezieht sich auf einen Raumgedanken, der in dreidimensionaler Form in den Sargkammern der Gräber des Petamenope und des Montuemhet ausgeführt wurde. Dort sind die 14 Kapellen zu je 7 an den Längswänden als Nischen ausgestaltet, die bei Montemhet sogar mit den Statuetten der Dämonen besetzt waren.”45

Specimens of actual wooden figural representations of some of these protective entities came to light in several royal tombs of the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Dynasties – Horemheb, Ramesses I, Sety I, and Ramesses IX – the majority of which are nowadays housed in the British Museum.46 Their black colour symbolises fertility and resurrection.47

In addition to these wooden representations, figurines carved out of stone are preserved as well, such as the ones from the tomb of Montuemhat in the Asasif (TT 34) – mentioned above in the citation from Assmann – dating to the time of Taharqa and Psammetik I (Twenty-fifth–Twenty-sixth Dynasty).48 They were originally arranged around the sarcophagus in holes carved into the walls of the burial chamber.49

As the above discussions show, although the protective entities present in the “outer circle” of the fragments from the Museo Egizio are recorded on different media in different forms, whether individually or in smaller groups partially similar to the Turin group, the specific canonised order of these demons that appears on the Turin fragments is to my knowledge only attested on coffins and sarcophagi. The only exception is the tomb of Mutirdis, where they are shown in this particular order, but separated into smaller groups housed in little chapels. The above list also shows that the earlier attestations of these figures, whether as statues or tomb-wall decoration, were initially restricted to the royal sphere and only later became available to private individuals.

The demons are usually represented along the long and short sides of sarcophagi and coffins, thus completely surrounding the mummy of the deceased, forming an all-encompassing protective circle. The following inscription describing the entities that are also present on the Turin fragments is provided on the sarcophagus of Psusennes I: …jry ary.t Hr Wsjr sAw.w ary.wt=sn smj.w xr.t tA.wj n Wsjr ra-nb “…who perform the gatekeeping for Osiris, who guard their gates, who report the requirements of the Two Lands to Osiris every day”.50

This row of apotropaic figures enclosed the whole of the coffin and as such also the mummy of the deceased and thus served as a protective barrier against any possible evil or harm that might threaten the deceased. This idea of being ready at all times to ward off evil and help the departed is further highlighted by the way some of the figures are depicted, namely in the semi-seated position with the legs bent at 90 degrees at the knees (as in the hieroglyph representing the “seated child”),51 but without a seat for them to actually sit on, giving the impression that they are sitting on air.52 Taylor proposes that this posture is intended to highlight their readiness. In other cases, these entities are depicted standing, kneeling, or squatting with their knees drawn up. Assmann suggests understanding the so-called mAs.w/mAstj.w “the kneeling/squatting ones” in the Coffin Texts as the precursors of these protective figures.53 There they are strongly connected with the protection of Osiris and characterised in the following way: jr mAs<tj>.w jpw jn Gb smn-sn m RA-sTA.w m-Dr sA=f Wsjr n snD sn=f 4tS … jr sj nb rx rn n mAs<tj>.w jpw wnn=f Hna Wsjr r nHH nj sk.n=f D.t “As to these squatting ones: Geb is the one who made them firm in8 Rosetau in the area of his son Osiris, for fear of his brother Seth … As to every man who knows the name of these squatting ones, he will be together with Osiris forever and never perish.”54

With this idea in mind, one wonders whether the specific placement of these protective figures in the “outer circle” of the fragments – assuming that the original arrangement of the Turin papyrus was oval – was based on the same idea of a protective enclosure, this time for the inner sections depicting the deceased. Here, too, as on coffins, the figures enclose the deceased, except that in this case it is a pictorial representation of him rather than his actual mummy.

4.2. The specific “Turin group”

1st and 2nd figures:The first demon preserved on the Turin fragments has a crocodile head and originally held a knife on its drawn-up knees.55 As is the case with the following figures, we can assume that its name was in a caption in front of its head, which is, however, lost today. Nevertheless, parallel groups indicate that it is most likely 2sf-m-tp-a.56 In addition to attestations in the standardised groups mentioned above, this demon is also depicted with a crocodile head on one of the side walls of the naos of Amasis.57 Based on parallels, it is preceded by one more figure belonging to this specific entourage, Rs-jb, “the one with a vigilant heart”, who is usually depicted with a lion head and standing with one hand raised in a reciting pose as a means of introducing the procession that follows.58

3rd figure:&nbsp;&nbsp;The figure of the second preserved demon (third in the complete group) has survived intact. It has a turtle in lieu of a head and holds a knife in its right hand, while the left arm is bent and the hand placed on the chest. The inscription identifies this being as Wnm-HwAA.t.59 This name is likewise attested in Book of the Dead Spells 144 and 147, both variants of the same spell, which concerns the gates of the netherworld and their keepers.60 There, this name is the designation of the one who is at the third gate: Wnm-HwA.t-n.t-pH=f “eater of the excrement of his posterior”.61 It is also depicted in the third eastern Osiris chapel in the temple of Dendera in a row of protective entities, once again turtle-headed in a squatting position with a knife in its right hand, but placed on top of a dais this time.62

4th figure:&nbsp;&nbsp;The fourth demon has the head of a ram and the same posture as the previous figure, likewise with a knife in its hand. It bears the name Nfr-nfr.w63 and is also attested in the third eastern Osirian chapel in the temple of Dendera; there, however, it is standing, its legs slightly bent, also with a ram’s head and with a reed knife/leaf in its right hand.64

5th figure:&nbsp;&nbsp;The fifth demon has a human head and is squatting with a gazelle in its hands. It bears the name 4mt65, also attested in Book of the Dead Spells 144 and 147, where it designates the guardian of the first gate: 4mty, “the eavesdropper, hearer”.66 It is also found in the tomb of Ramesses III (KV 11)67 and in the third eastern Osiris chapel in the temple of Dendera, in both cases represented as a standing man with slightly bent legs holding up a gazelle in its hands; its caption here reads 4mtj nb “the one who hears the lord”.68 On the Turin fragments, this entity is given a further designation: aA smt “the one great of hearing/the one with acute hearing”.

6th figure:Based on parallels, the sixth demon was presumably an upright standing baboon. In some of these parallels, it is depicted with a bow in its hands;69 however, all its occurrences in the canonised versions on coffins and sarcophagi lack this feature. Its name is commonly read as Jfw.70 What is presumably its tail is still preserved on the following fragment. The upright standing baboon that is slightly bent forward is also attested in the temple of Hibis, in the second register of the north wall of the sanctuary. There, enough of the inscription is left to identify it as Jfw, too.71 This depiction is followed by a baboon sitting on a box or shrine, but the preserved hieroglyphs, which read bnn[…],72 suggest that it is not identical with the two baboons sitting on a shrine that usually9 follow Jfw in this sequence of apotropaic gods. The god Jfw is further attested in the row of apotropaic entities in the third eastern Osirian chapel in the temple of Dendera, also portrayed as an upright standing baboon, but this time with its hands raised in adoration.73

Excerpt of Book of the Dead Spell 168 between figures 6 and 7:The following text has a close parallel in a section of Book of the Dead Spell 168, the so-called “Grüftebuch”. Actually this is not part of the original Book of the Dead manuscripts, but an independent composition, more specifically a litany of offerings to divinities of different caverns.74 According to Lucarelli, and others before her, it rather belongs to the category of “Guides of the Netherworld”.75 The passage on the Turin fragments reads as follows:

[nTr]1.w qr(r).wt 9 m dA.t Hsq 2TAw r fnD (?)76 Hsq=sn3 TAw r fnD n xftj n Wsjr 49d-Hr msj.n 6glmy mAa(.t)-xrw

“[The god]1s of the nine caverns77 in the underworld, who cut off 2 the air from the nose (?). They cut off 3 the air from the nose of the enemy of the Osiris 4 of Djedher, whom Teglemy justified has born.”

The corresponding parallel passage in Book of the Dead Spell 168 needs to be understood as a “Beischrift” to the list that follows. In P. BM EA 10478, for instance, it is written in red ink and reads: nTr.w qrr.wt nD.w bA.w wDa.w-md.wt wpj.w mAa.t r jsf.t nTr.w qrr.wt psD.t m dA.t StA.t jrj.w Hsq TAw “the gods of the caverns, who protect the bas, who judge, who distinguish truth from falsehood, gods of the caverns, the Ennead in the secret underworld, who cut off the air”. Furthermore, it can be found again later in that spell as the description of the 9th cavern: nTr.w qrr.t 8.nwt(sic) m dA.t StA.t jrj.w Hsq{k} TAw “the gods of the {eighth}<ninth> cavern in the secret underworld, who cut off the air”.78

Since the three plural strokes – most likely belonging to nTr.w – are the first signs preserved in the first column of the Turin papyrus fragments, it is not certain how much of Book of the Dead Spell 168 was excerpted, more specifically, whether it started with nTr.w or whether, for instance, nTr.w qrr.wt nD.w bA.w wDa.w-md.wt wpj.w mAa.t r jsf.t, i.e. the name of the eighth cavern,79 was written before it. However, since clear traces of the standing baboon are preserved right in front of the first text column, it can be assumed that this text passage was not written before the first preserved text column, but probably originally at the beginning of the row of protective entities, and maybe the scribe had already started to write nTr.w accidentally there.

It is also interesting that the passage from Book of the Dead Spell 168 seems to have been repeated twice here, but slightly differently each time, first as an epithet of the gods, and then as a caption specifying their task as those who act against the enemies of Djedher, the deceased. In Book of the Dead Spell 168, this passage is used solely as an epithet of the relevant divinities.

The figures of Book of the Dead Spell 168 can also be found in the soubassement of the third eastern Osiris chapel in Dendera, where some of the entities encountered on the Turin fragments are featured as well.80

7th and 8th figure:&nbsp;&nbsp;The following demon-group consists of two baboons sitting on a shrine. The first bears the name 4xd-Hr.81 The name of the second baboon, usually 8b-Hr=k,82 is not written. The names of these two baboons are short forms of names that are also attested in Book of the Dead Spells 144 and 147. The doorkeeper of the first gate is designated as 4xd-Hr aSA-jrw “face downward, numerous of shapes”, and the announcer of the fifth gate as 8b-Hr khA-At “hippopotamus-faced, violent of strength” in both spells.83 The two baboons, each sitting on a podium, are also attested in a row of protective beings in the third eastern Osiris chapel in the temple of Dendera,10 where they are designated as 4xd-Hr and 8b-Hr.84

The group of the three baboons – one standing, two sitting – can likewise be found in the tomb of Ramesses III (KV 11) and in some tombs in the Valley of the Queens.85

9th figure:&nbsp;&nbsp;The name of the following demon, Jmy-wt86, is written immediately after the second squatting baboon. In parallels, this deity has a jackal head and a snake in its hands. However, nothing of its depiction survives on the papyrus fragments in the Museo Egizio, except for some traces of ink below the name that originally might have belonged to the head of the snake.

10th and 11th figure:A further fragment is preserved which continues the row of protective entities. Still visible is the lower half of the body of the 11th figure, as well as the bottom part of the snake it is holding and that of the serpent held by the preceding divinity. In parallels, this demon is ram-headed, holds a snake in its left hand, and is called 2nfA.87 The preceding demon has the head of a crocodile, holds a snake with both hands, and is called 8wn-HA.t.88

Possible continuation of the figures:The row of protective figures breaks off at this point on the fragments in the Museo Egizio. Nevertheless, based on the coffin and sarcophagus attestations discussed above, the four sons of Horus would have followed in an unusual guise, with Amset and Hapy in human-headed form holding a lizard in each hand, the jackal-headed Duamutef holding a snake with both hands, and the human-headed Qebehsenuef with two crossed snakes in his hands.

While the examples from coffins and sarcophagi listed above display the same arrangement of protective figures and in most cases also with their names inscribed above their heads as on the Turin fragments, the extended version of the passage from Book of the Dead Spell 168 inserted into the decoration on the papyrus is attested neither on the coffins nor on the sarcophagi.

4.3. Role and meaning of the “outer circle” and the protective entities on the Turin fragments

According to Assmann, the group of deities to which the ones on the Turin fragments belong can be connected to the embalming and burial of the corpse of Osiris, and is associated with the Osirian nightly vigil, the “Stundenwachen” in the embalming hall.89 In the tomb of Mutirdis (TT 410), where the protective entities are depicted on the east and west walls, we find the so-called Awakening Scene on the south wall, showing Horus holding an anx-sign and a wAs-sign to the face of his father, thus awakening Osiris who is lying on his bed.90 The placement of the sarcophagus in the middle surrounded by the figures is thus the realisation of the Awakening Scene and the demons hence relate to the sarcophagus in the same way as they do to the scene of the awakened Osiris depicted on the wall.91 Whether as wooden or stone figurines in the burial chamber around the sarcophagus or as figures depicted around the body of the coffin, these images serve the same function of creating a protective circle in order to ward off any evil from the body of the deceased. We can therefore assume with some certainty that the demons on the papyrus from the Museo Egizio originally encircled the whole of what was written and drawn in the inner section, and hence also provided a guarding ring, in exactly the same way as the statuettes and depictions on tomb walls and coffins.92

5. Annotations

A further peculiarity of these papyrus fragments is the insertion or correction mark visible below the fourth preserved demon, designated as 4m.t. The lighter grey colour of the ink as well as the use of a thicker rush stem suggests that this mark was not added simultaneously with the drawing of the original composition. It may have been inserted later, during a revision of the finished manuscript. The sign is the writing of the Demotic ty, “here”.93 It is also used, for instance, in the Leiden manuscript of the Myth of the Sun’s Eye, where this group marks the position for words that need to be added.94 Since the Turin fragment breaks off immediately after the mark, it is impossible to say anything about the original content of the corresponding gloss, which was11 probably written in the upper or lower margin of the papyrus. Nevertheless, as the name of the protective deity to which it seems to have been attributed is written in an unusually elaborate version, the gloss may have provided clarification on this.

6. Content and nature of the papyrus fragments and provisional reconstruction

I provide here a provisional reconstruction (Fig. 2) based on the above investigation. I have placed preserved fragments in a more or less circular or oval format following the curve of the lines. I am aware of the fact that the curved lines at the top and the bottom might also have been flattened, for instance.95 Unfortunately, it is impossible to specify the exact form of the head and the foot ends due to lack of papyrus fragments from these areas. The figures in the “outer circle” belong to a group of protective entities concerned with the protection of Osiris, and thus of the deceased, which is known to us in this canonised form. This series can be reconstructed with some certainty. An interesting phenomenon12 observable in attestations of these protective entities is that they clearly follow a specific order when they are depicted in groups. Moreover, these beings or groups thereof seem to be assigned most of the time to specific cardinal points (compare the list of coffins and sarcophagi above). The specific category of demons in the particular order that is also preserved on the Museo Egizio fragments is mostly situated on the left side of the coffin. In the Turin papyrus, they appear in the same position, on the right side of the composition, which corresponds to the (proper) left side of the coffin.

Proposed reconstruction of P. Turin Provv. 6133. (The reconstruction of the demons in the “outer circle” is based on those of the sarcophagus of Psusennes I [see the literature references in n. 23]).

Proposed reconstruction of P. Turin Provv. 6133. (The reconstruction of the demons in the “outer circle” is based on those of the sarcophagus of Psusennes I [see the literature references in n. 23]).

Furthermore, the group of demons has a specific counterpart, which is usually placed on the opposite side. It is therefore justified to assume that this group was originally drawn on the left side of the “outer circle”. It is not possible to say, instead, whether an excerpt of Book of the Dead Spell 168 or another similar spell was likewise inserted among the figures of this group. The space at the “head” and “foot” ends of the “outer circle” could originally have been decorated with demons found in the corresponding position on parallels, such as, for instance, those preserved on the short sides of the sarcophagus of Psusennes I.96

My placement of the two fragments in the middle of the oval is based on several factors: the orientation of the hieroglyphs; a tiny but certain section of a vignette at the top of the upper fragment; and the rather prominent horizontal fibres on the verso of the lower fragment, which match those on the verso of the central fragment on the right side of the reconstruction (Fig. 3).

Verso of P. Turin Provv. 6133 as currently mounted. Scan by Museo Egizio.

Verso of P. Turin Provv. 6133 as currently mounted. Scan by Museo Egizio.

The length of the columns can be estimated with the help of the above-mentioned parallels. As Book of the Dead Spell 1 started in the single text column on the right and continued in the right half of the inner section, I would propose that Book of the Dead Spell 19 or 20, which occupies the left side of the inner section, likewise started in the single text column, in13 this case in the left half of the oval, and then continued in the columns of text on the left in the middle section. As already pointed out, above this inner text field we find a vignette field that perhaps extended horizontally all the way to the single text columns on either side. The lower separation line of this vignette, which is still preserved on the right side, would thus have been at the same level as that of the vignette in the centre of the composition.

Although these pieces have previously been ascribed to a hypocephalus, most likely based on the curved outer lines, the new reconstruction highlights that the bend of the lines is not congruent with an exact circle. Furthermore, none of the typical vignettes or texts found on hypocephali, such as Book of the Dead Spell 162, are found on the Museo Egizio fragments. Based on this unusual form as well as the presence of the canonised group of protective entities only attested in this specific arrangement on a number of coffins and sarcophagi, I would like to suggest two alternative interpretations for the Turin papyrus. First, it seems fitting to consider our arrangement either as a copy of, or a template for, a coffin or sarcophagus, i.e. that of Djedher, son of Teglemy. The Demotic correction mark that was added later could be the result of a subsequent amendment to the original template, before the practical execution of the object. However, I am aware of no other example of such a “coffin template papyrus”.

A second possibility would be that the papyrus was placed on top of the mummy in its coffin.97 The Book of the Dead spells as well as the outer circle of protective figures would thus have had the same purpose as the one they would have had had they been carved or painted on the coffin itself: the all-encircling protection of the deceased.


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