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Book of the Dead Exhibition

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by Adam Millward (subscribe)
London-based writer with incurably itchy feet always looking for the quirky and curious
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If you've seen 'The Mummy Returns', you might think you already know all you need to when it comes to the Book of the Dead. But don't be too hasty because the new exhibition at the British Museum sheds a whole new light on the mysterious tome.

The Museum is internationally renowned for its Egyptian collection - including those all-famous mummies and sarcophagi - but this temporary exhibit explores the beliefs and spiritualism behind the organ extraction and bandages; ultimately giving visitors an Ancient Egyptian perspective on life after death.

The 'Book' of the Dead was not a single text, but a compilation of spells and prayers to guide the deceased on the right path to ensuring eternal life. It was an extremely important item in Egyptian culture and one that would be considered a long time prior to death, if given the opportunity. In fact, for the everyday labourer, it could cost up to half their annual wages!

This exhibition brings out many of these spells from the Museum archives, which is a rare opportunity in itself, as they are seldom displayed due to the fragility of the papyrus of which many are written. Among these will be the Greenfield Papyrus - the largest in the world at 37m long, which has never before been shown in its entirety. As well as the 'Book of the Dead' spells, there is a variety of other treasures associated with the funerary rituals, including masks, figurines and jewellery.

All in all, you more than get your money's worth, and you'll come away with a whole new outlook on the Ancient Egyptian way of life - and indeed way of death.
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Why? For a new look at Egyptian history...
When: 4/11/2010 to 6/12/2011
Where: British Museum, Great Russell Street, WC1B 3DG
Cost: Adult: 12, 16-18-years: 10, Under 16s: Free (with accompanying adult)
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