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Jun 25, 2024

Exceptionally Rare Ancient Egyptian Papyrus Book Auctioned off for €1.3 Million

Looking for some authentic spells to get you into spooky season? Well, it's gonna cost you.

Staff Writer

Exceptionally Rare Ancient Egyptian Papyrus Book Auctioned off for €1.3 Million

An ancient Egyptian text has been auctioned off in Monaco, racking in 1.35 million Euros. The auction took place in the Monte Carlo Auction House on Saturday, October 6th.

The rare document, titled The Book of the Dead, dates back to 594-588 B.C. and is made entirely out of papyrus. Written in hieroglyphics, the book is complete with 192 chapters in black ink, with titles and important sections written in red ink.

The book comes from a collection of “Books of the Dead”, which are collections of up to 200 spells. The ancient Egyptians placed these books in their tombs believing they would serve as a sort of protection for the dead as they passed through the underworld into the afterlife.

The texts were prepared by scribes and sold to prospective buyers who would later add their name to the documents. Each spell comes with an illustration, the book coming with 227 illustrations intact drawn in black and red ink.

This text is from the 26th Dynasty onwards, making it a part of the “Saite Recension” given to Books of the Dead from this time period. This makes it exceptionally rare as there are only around twenty of 26th Dynasty Books of the Dead surviving today.

It was protocol for these books to be wrapped in fabric in order to preserve them. This text is reported to be in very good condition, except for one small section. This is due to insects getting into and creating holes in the papyrus. However, these were fixable with ancient repair methods- rectangular patchwork pieces added to the back of the scroll. Although visible and recognizably a result of damage done to the texts, this patchwork efficiently mends the document as much as ancient methods allow. All affected areas were corrected except for one illustration.

The Book of the Dead put up for auction comes from the private collection of an amateur French collector of Egyptology in the 1960s. This collector made their offer over the phone and remains anonymous.

Photo: EgyptologyLessons