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The Book of the Dead gives us no evidence of authorship except for attributing later versions to Thoth/Tehuti. Later the Greeks claim The Book of the Dead in its genre of classic literature. Of course, there are four versions of The Book of the Dead reflected throughout four time periods.

The first version, Heliopolitan, was edited by priests of the College of Annu, named Heliopolis by the Greeks. It was originally written in hieroglyphics and known from five copies inscribed on the walls and chamber of the pyramids of the 5th and 6th dynasties at Sakkara. Sections of this version were also inscribed in tombs, sarcophagi, coffin, stelae, and papyri from 11th dynasty to about 200AD.

The Book of the Dead
The Book of the Dead

The second version, the Theban rendition, was also written on papyrus in hieroglyphics and divided into sections or chapters in use during the 18th to 20th dynasties.The Theban version is highly artistic, reflecting more actual artwork than texts. It was incomplete and unfair in its representation; it reflected major omissions, grammatical inferiority, and disorganization. Those credited with compiling this version of The Book of the Dead were not well versed with the documents, and it is evident in the final craftsmanship.

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The third version is closely related to the previous, Theban. It was written on papyrus in hieratic characters as well as in hieroglyphics, with lack of structure or logical sequence. It was in flux during the 20th dynasty. The final version, the Saite, circulated during the 27th dynasty through the Ptolemaic Period. Its chapters were arranged in definite order, written in hieroglyphics and hieratic, with consideration of alterations of important information.

The Book of the Dead
The Book of the Dead

The Book of the Dead was also recognized as the pyramid texts that also share similar features and purposes.The pyramid texts were to accompany the King and address matters concerning his protection and afterlife. They totaled some 80 spells, but no single pyramid contained all the spells. This ancient religious composition was authorized by the priests of the College of Annu as an official version of The Book of the Dead in the 1st dynasty. From these texts, edited and revised, derived what is known as the Coffin texts. Coffin texts were buried in rock-cut tombs and not in pyramids; of those that possessed such inscriptions, the expectation was to master the spells to ensure passage into the afterlife. Through time and revisions,the ritualistic aspects of The Book of the Dead were neglected until only selected chapters remained.

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