Arts Minister Ros Bates today revealed that the missing fragments
of an important ‘Book of the Dead’ manuscript have been uncovered
at the Queensland Museum.
Ms Bates said British Museum curator and world renowned Egyptologist Dr John Taylor, in Brisbane for the Museum’s exclusive Mummy: Secrets of the Tomb exhibition, had stumbled across a section of the manuscript on display.
“Thanks to the eagle-eyed Egyptologist, this led to the discovery that another 100 plus fragments of papyrus in the Museum’s store room were the missing pieces of an historically highly-valuable ‘Book of the Dead’ that belonged to the Chief Builder of the temple of Amun, Amenhotep,” Ms Bates said.
“Sections of this manuscript, dated to 1420 BC, have been scattered across the globe for almost a 100 years with some pieces held in the collections of the British Museum, Boston Museum of Fine Arts, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art (MET), New York. However, archaeologists had been unable to piece it together in its entirety and have long been looking for the missing sections to complete the story of this important Egyptian figure’s journey into the afterlife.”
A ‘Book of the Dead’ is an Egyptian manuscript, up to 20 metres in length, of magical spells written on papyrus that were commissioned by families upon the death of a loved one to guide them on their hazardous journey into the afterlife.
Amenhotep’s manuscript is particularly significant as it is an early example of a ‘Book of the Dead’ manuscript that has several unusual features found on only four or five manuscripts ever discovered.
These include borders featuring five pointed stars and sun-disks along the top and bottom, and a large inscription in one line on the back of the papyrus, all of which indicates a person of considerable rank, wealth and importance. This feature was also how Dr Taylor was able to recognise this important international find.
Ms Bates said the Queensland Museum’s sections were donated and had been in the care of the Museum for over 100 years.
“It is so gratifying to find that it is our own Queensland Museum team that have been the guardians of this tomb secret, preserving such incredibly fragile and rare artefacts for over a century.”
Dr John Taylor said once back in London, he would like to start trying to piece the Queensland Museum fragments into the British Museum’s manuscript electronically.
“Reuniting manuscripts like this is incredibly important and meticulous work and we hope by piecing together the fragments we will be able to see what mysteries they reveal,” Dr Taylor said.
“Archaeologists don’t find manuscripts like this so often nowadays. It is finds like this and bringing the pieces together that provide the most significant discoveries.”
Mummy: Secrets of the Tomb runs at the Queensland Museum until 19 August 2012. Adult tickets from $20 - additional booking fees apply. Concessions are available.
Tickets are on sale through FoxTix : www.foxtix.com.au
Minister for Science, Information Technology, Innovation and the Arts
The Honourable Ros Bates
Friday, April 20, 2012
Missing Pieces Of Egyptian Book Of The Dead Found At Queensland Museum