Netherworld Papyrus of Gautsoshen

Period: Third Intermediate Period

Dynasty: Dynasty 21

Date: ca. 1000–945 B.C.

Geography: From Egypt, Upper Egypt, Thebes, Deir el-Bahri, Tomb MMA 60, Pit, Burial 4 (Gautsoshen), MMA excavations, 1923–24

Medium: Papyrus, ink

Dimensions: l. 119.5 cm (47 1/16 in); w. 24 cm (9 7/16 in)
Frame: 123.2 cm (48 in); w. 27.9 cm (11 in); th. 2.5 cm (1 in)

Credit Line: Rogers Fund, 1925

Accession Number: 25.3.31


This copy of the book of the Amduat, or "What is in the Underworld" was found rolled up and placed between the thighs of Gautsoshen's mummy. The papyrus, whose left part is missing, contains three scenes. On the right is the deceased adoring Osiris and the scorpion goddess Selket. The next scene shows Shu, the god of the atmosphere, holding the starstudded skies, which envelop the gods of the twelve hours of the night who are guarding the secret gates to the region of Ikheret. The middle register has a row of deities who will destroy the one who is not justified before Osiris. The scene on the left contains cobras as doorkeepers of the Underworld, the morning and evening barks of Re, and depictions and emblems of the patron goddesses of Upper and Lower Egypt, Nekhbet and Neith.

Although the presentations of the figures on the papyrus are formal, the draftsman's choice of colors and some of the freehand drawings are very appealing to the eye.