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A&A Art Print: Respond and Connect: Book of the Dead for the Singer of Amun, Nancy, c. 1050 BCE. Egyptian.

"Anubis says to Osiris, 'Her heart is an accurate witness,' and Osiris replies, 'Give her her eyes and her mouth, since her heart is an accurate witness.'"

Translation of hieroglyphic text from The Metropolitan Museum of Art

MAIN VISUAL ART CONCEPTS: Line * Shape * Color * Contrast * Symbol * Sequence

NANY'S DEATH, BURIAL AND HER AFTERLIFE: This image is part of a 17-foot scroll that was found in the tomb of a singer, described as short and plump, named Nany who died in her 70s. It depicts her as tall and elegant (second figure from the left) holding her eyes and her mouth in her hand. Nany was characterized as a "king's daughter" who sang ritual music in praise of the god Amun-Re.'#

GOOD NEWS, BAD NEWSHOW TO GO FORTH: The hieroglyphics on the scroll are words being spoken between Isis and Osiris. They are declaring Nany worthy of passage because her heart is lighter than the weight of the feather of truth, Ma'at (pronounced Mah-AHT). If her heart had been found to be heavier than the feather, it would have been cast out for Ammut (or Ammit) to devour. Ammut had a crocodile head, a leopard/large cat front and a rhinoceros/hippo back. After that, her soul would exist no more. Lucky for Nany, she was found worthy of the afterlife.

BOTANY: The Science of Paper. Papyrus is a plant (cyperus papyrus) that grows in shallow water. It grew plentifully on the banks of the Nile River. The stems of the plant were used to make numerous objects such as sandals, mats and paper-thin scrolls. The fibers were laid crossing one another for added strength.

RELIGIOUS HISTORY: A Pantheon of gods. The ancient Egyptian deities seen in The Hall of Truth (lower section of this scroll) are involved with the weighing of Nany's heart. They are: Isis (far left); Anubis (center); and Osiris (far right). We know it is Osiris because he wears a white crown and has a curving beard. Although his body is wrapped like a mummy, his hands are free to hold a crook. Osiris is the god of rebirth and of vegetation. His son is Horus, depicted as a falcon in the center frame at the top of the scroll. Isis and Osiris were husband and wife, and in some stories Horus was their son.

LANGUAGE ARTS: Publishing. While the title of this, and other scrolls like it, is commonly called "The Book of the Dead," the literal translation of its title is "Book of Coming Forth by Day." These "books" (actually, scrolls) have many similarities, and were found in numerous Egyptian tombs. Scribes often produced the scrolls in advance of their purchase, drawing and writing most of the material that they would then personalize with the name of the deceased.

HISTORY: The discovery of the Rosetta Stone in 1799 and its 1822 published translation by Jean-Francois Champollion, led to deeper understanding of ancient Egyptian history and culture. The stone is carved with a decree from 196 BCE translated into three languages, including Egyptian hieroglyphics.

ANCIENT GRAPHIC NOVEL: Across the top of this scroll are three "frames" depicting Nany in stages of entering the afterlife. From right to left (the proper reading of such scrolls) they are: 1 .Worshipping the divine palette, 2. Praising a statue of the god, Horus, depicted as a falcon, and 3. Standing beside the doors to her own tomb.

LANGUAGE ARTS: What is a hieroglyph? Simply put, it is a written symbol.

The word comes from the Greek word, "hieroglyphikos" (hiero: holy; glypho: writing), meaning "sacred carving." The meaning of hieroglyph is now extended to mean "picture writing" and can apply to written language systems of many cultures. Some Egyptian hieroglyphs represent words, others represent sounds, and another type refines the meaning of words and sounds. Whereas in English, there are 26 letters in our alphabet, there were 750-1,000 different hieroglyphs used in ancient Egypt.

ART CONSERVATION: The oldest known papyrus examples date to 2500 BCE. These ancient pieces were preserved in containers in underground tombs that stayed dry for thousands of years. Scrolls such as Nany's were rolled up (papyrus is too brittle to be folded) and placed inside a hollow wooden figure of Osiris, the ancient Egyptian god of the underworld and rebirth.
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Publication:Arts & Activities
Geographic Code:7EGYP
Date:Feb 28, 2019
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