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Books of the Dead

This detail is from the most beautifully decorated example in the collection, measuring an impressive 175 x 35 cm. Here the owner of the book, together with his wife, faces the Everlasting Devourer – a fantastical beast with the hindquarters of a hippopotamus, the body of a leopard, the head of a crocodile and the power to end their journey in one snap of his jaws. Emerging from the papyrus behind the Devourer is the goddess Hathor in her bovine form; the female counterpart to the sun god Ra, she is often represented as a cow with a sun disc between her horns. As a more benevolent deity, Hathor had the power to pass through the boundary separating the living from the Duat – the realm of the dead. The name of the book's owner has not been recorded in the hieroglyphic text, however, the quality of the exquisite vignettes indicates that he was a wealthy individual.

Shelfmark: TCD MS 1661/1

Susie Bioletti

Susie Bioletti is Keeper of Preservation and Conservation, and works with the conservation team to develop and implement the stewardship strategy for the Library. The identification of pigments and the study of particulate pollution occupy her from time to time.