About this object

Complete document about 392 cm in length and now preserved as five sheets with some pieces remaining loose. Discovered as a completely undisturbed folded roll in a cemetery excavated by the University of Liverpool in 1905. Forgotten about until 1974 when it was unrolled by Professor Walter Fairman. New conservation work carried out by Eve Menei in 2016 has allowed for the complete document to be placed on public display for the first time.

The papyrus is inscribed for a man named Djedhor, the son of Tapes. Text is written in hieratic and hieroglyphic with carbon ink and red ochre. Vignettes are painted with carbon ink. The red (rubric) is used to highlight the start of different spells. Vignettes in black pigment are beside each spell and run across the top length. The papyrus was unrolled in the summer term of 1974 by Liverpool University’s Professor of Egyptology, Herbert Walter Fairman (1907-1982), who wrote "In spite of the desperately damaged state of the first 12 or 15 inches, the remainder was unrolled without great difficulty and proves to be a copy of the Saite Recension of the Book of the Dead about 15 foot in length. It has admirable vignettes and is not without interest."

Djed-hor’s Book of the Dead was discovered with some other finds brought back to England in 1905 from a site called Hissayeh (Nag el-Hisaya) in Upper Egypt. In a fieldwork report to the museum, dated 5th March 1905, Professor John Garstang of Liverpool University records that “Few tombs of the Ptolemaic character proved to have escaped plunder and in one of them Mr Jones found attached to a mummy a hieroglyphic papyrus ...The papyrus is a nice roll in good condition. The text is well written and the illustrations in pen and ink apparently without colour. It seems to be The Book of the Dead but I have not dealt with it yet. Another was found two days ago, unfortunately flat, and difficult to preserve".

The papyrus is probably from after the end of the Pharaonic Period, at the beginning of the Ptolemaic Period, shortly after the invasion of Alexander the Great about 332 BC. It’s the same style as the Book of the Dead of Nesmin, Detroit Institute of Arts (no. 1988.10.13) and Brüssel, Musèes Royaux d’Art et d’Histoire (no. E8388/E) published in Wilfried Seipel, ‘Ägypten Götter, Gräber und die Kunst. 4000 Jahre Jenseits-glaube’ (1989) p.182.

Object specifics

  • Type
  • Culture
  • Artist/Maker
  • Place made
    Africa: Northern Africa: Egypt: Hissayeh
  • Date made
    332 BC about
  • Materials
    Ink; Papyrus
  • Location
    World Museum, Level 3, Ancient Egypt Gallery
  • Acquisition
    Gift of the University of Liverpool, 1905
  • Collector
    Liverpool University Institute of Archaeology
  • Place collected
    Africa: Northern Africa: Egypt: Hissayeh
  • Date collected
  • Measurements
    425 mm x 3915 mm
  • Note
    The papyrus has never been published and there remains no complete translation of the text. The roll now consists of twenty sheets pasted together with joins (right sheet overlapping the left one) around 10 mm wide. The beginning and external part is partially lost, the remaining pieces being scattered in a wooden box. The end (un-inscribed ) and centre part of the roll, still tightly rolled, is stored in another box. Five pieces have been cut out of the roll to allow their exhibition and their storage after unrolling. Prior to 27 April 2017 only two pieces of the document had been displayed, with most remaining in within storage. In 1976 one piece of the document 99 cm in length was displayed. In 2008 this was accompanied by another piece 99 cm in length.
  • Related people
    Liverpool University Institute of Archaeology ( Collector, previous owner)

Explore related


  • American Journal of Archaeology vol. 10

    Fowler, Harold North (ed)

    Author: Fowler, Harold North (ed)
    Publisher: Archaeological Institute of America
    Date: 1906
    Description: Brief note about the University of Liverpool's excavations on page 94. Here is a transcript: EXCAVATIONS OF THE UNIVERSITY OF LIVERPOOL. - The University of Liverpool's excavations last season met with very satisfactory success. Mr. Garstang was compelled to abandon for the present his digging at Hierakonpolis on account of the extreme dryness, but not until he had established that what he calls the Great Fort there was built upon the site of a predynastic cemetery hitherto unworked. Nearly two hundred archaic graves were here uncovered and photographed. At Hissayeh, south of Edfu, he discovered some prehistoric pottery and wooden objects of a type claimed to be different from anything yet found elsewhere, and also some hieroglyphic papyri of late Pharaonic times. The season's work came to an end with Esneh, where the whole site was conceded to the expedition through the courtesy of Professor Sayce, and some memorials of the Hyksos period were found, together with two tombs of unusual design of the time of Rameses VI. All the objects brought back to England will be exhibited in the Institute of Archaeology at Liverpool about the end of this month. (Athen. September 16, 1905.) The University of Liverpool has sent an expedition under Mr. Garstang to make explorations and excavations in the vicinity of Esneh. (Athen. December 23, 1905.)."

  • Egyptian Antiquities in the Liverpool Museum: a List of the Provenanced Objects

    Bienkowski, Piotr; Southworth, Edmund

    Author: Bienkowski, Piotr; Southworth, Edmund
    Publisher: Aris and Phillips Ltd
    Date: 1986

  • Excavations at Hierakonpolis, at Esna, and in Nubia in Annales du Service des Antiquitiés de l’Égypte volume 8, pp. 132-148

    Garstang, John

    Author: Garstang, John
    Publisher: Annales du Service des Antiquitiés de l’Égypte
    Date: 1907
    Description: Brief account of John Garstang's fieldwork in Upper Egypt between 1905 - 1906. The article is available online: http://archive.org/stream/annalesduservice08egypuoft#page/132/mode/1up (accessed 19 Feb 2015)

  • Gifts of The Nile: Ancient Egyptian Arts and Crafts in Liverpool Museum

    Bienkowski, Piotr; Tooley, Angela

    Author: Bienkowski, Piotr; Tooley, Angela
    Publisher: Her Majesty's Stationery Office
    Date: 1995
    Description: A 130 page illustrated book that focuses on the Egyptian antiquities in World Museum's collections to provide a colourful introduction to the land and its culture in the Pharaonic period. An appendix explains the history of the collection and includes information about the Lady Lever Art Gallery Egyptian collection, which is also part of National Museums Liverpool.

  • The University of Liverpool Report to the Court 1973-74

    The University of Liverpool

    Author: The University of Liverpool
    Publisher: The University of Liverpool
    Date: 1974
    Description: Annual report published by The University of Liverpool which includes a report on the activities of the Egyptology department.


  • Liverpool Excavations at Hissayeh, 1905

    Start date: 1905-02
    End date: 1905-02
    Description: Excavations directed by John Garstang of the University of Liverpool Institute of Archaeology on behalf of the Egyptian Excavations Committee and the Institute of Archaeology in 1905. Hissayeh is a cemetery about 15 km south of Edfu in Upper Egypt. In a fieldwork report to members of the excavation committee, dated 5th March 1905, Prof. John Garstang records that towards the end of February his assistant, Mr Harold Jones, took a tent, 80 men and equipment to Hissayeh. Garstang had already examined the site and had found it to be very much plundered. On page 4 of his report he notes, “It seemed, however, desirable to look over the necropolis carefully to make sure it was exhausted and to ascertain anything possible concerning its history. Few tombs of the Ptolemaic character proved to have escaped plunder and in one of them Mr Jones found attached to a mummy a hieroglyphic papyrus. (I consequently joined him in camp at Hissayeh where we are now). The papyrus is a nice roll in good condition. The text is well written and the illustrations in pen and ink apparently without colour. It seems to be The Book of the Dead but I have not dealt with it yet. Another was found two days ago, unfortunately flat, and difficult to preserve. Some small wooden objects (2 stelae) and one or two good wooden sarcophagi, modelled to human shape and decorated with scenes of ritual and religion have been found. Also some excellent pottery."


Previous owners

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