Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Litany of Re

The Litany of Re is a religious text which appears in a number of Egyptian royal tombs dating to the New Kingdom. It is composed of a number of texts invoking the sun god in his various forms. At the end of the texts, the King is identified as the sun god to general rejoicing by the inhabitants of the underworld.

The representations of the sun god consist of his morning form (Kheper), his evening form (Atum) and many other forms in between. He shown in some scenes as a ram headed diety and in others as a baboon. The sun god is also shown as a mummy with the head of a lion or of a human being.

In the tomb of Tuthmose III, the Litany of Re is in the King's burial chamber. The book then disappears until the reign of Seti I in the Ninetenth Dynasty. From that point on it was usually put in the tomb's entrance corridor.

Egyptologists do not fully understand al of the details of these texts (translating and understanding are two different things!).

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