Book of Caverns – Book of the underworld Egypt Religion

The Book of Caverns is one of these underworld books of The New Kingdom of Ancient Egypt like the Amduat book and the Book of Gates. Archeologists found the book in some tombs in the Valley of the Kings, Luxor Tours.

Book of Caverns, why?

The book has no ancient name or title and is not divided into hours of the night as other Ancient Egyptian funerary books or texts.

The ancient Egyptians know the book as hrrt. The reason for naming this book is that according to the different scenes and the accompanying texts, we understand from them that the sun will pass through different caves in the Netherworld, and it contains a number of oval shapes, which represents the word db3t, means pit or coffin. In the concept of the ancient Egyptian, who is not buried in a coffin, is of course buried in a pit, and those buried in these ovals are gods or spirits who are in the netherworld.

Where did we find this Book?

Till now, the first version came to us from the Osireion in Abydos then we found in some tombs of the Valley of the Kings in Luxor, and some versions from the Late Period.

On the walls of the sarcophagi rooms in the tombs of Merenptah (KV 8), Tausret (KV 14), and Ramesses III (KV 11). In the tomb of Ramesses IV (KV2) we found an earlier version of the first and second sections of The Book of Caverns, and Ramesses VI (KV9) has an almost complete version of the book. That was not all in the Valley of the Kings, in the Tomb of Ramesses IX (KV6) we found parts of the Book of Caverns.

Late Period versions

After the New Kingdom, The Book of Caverns appears here and there for example

The Papyrus of Queen Nedjmet dates back to the 21st Dynasty

The tomb of Petamenophis

The tomb of mayor Montuemhat (TT 34) in Al Assasif

Nilometer at Roda Island

What is the oldest version of the Book of Caverns?

As long as we know now, The Book of Caverns originated in the Ramesside Period. The book is talking about the underworld where those who did not pass the Judgment in the afterlife, and also the rewards of those who pass the judgment. The Book of Caverns gives us great information about the Egyptian concept of hell.

The Purpose of the Book of the Caverns?

The Book of Caverns describes the journey of the sun god Ra through the caves of the underworld. The Book of Caves talks about the fate of souls in the Netherworld and the law of karma.

In other words, the book focuses on the rewards and punishments in the afterlife. Meaning that what a person does in this world determines his destiny in the other world. The Book of Caves also deals with the fate of souls who do not succeed in passing the trial in the Maat Hall before Osiris. As a result, the bad fate they have received, as well as the fate of souls who pass the trial and the good outcome they receive.

Book of Caverns division

The Book of Caverns has two main parts, each consisting of 6 chapters with almost 80 scenes. It contains more verbal texts than it contains pictorial expressions. The book describes the journey of Ra (accompanying the souls of the dead) in the underworld through caves.

This journey through which he passes through many difficulties, and cosmic forces help him to overcome those difficulties. Ra passes through the caves of the underworld accompanied by the soul of the deceased.

Most important versions of the Book of Caverns

The first section has 5 horizontal registers and two vertical ones. The two vertical ones have the sun disc in one and the god Ra as a ram-headed in one. The 5 horizontal registers started from up to down as follows

Ra passes through the first cave whose entrance is protected by serpents. Meanwhile, Ra greets Osiris by extending his hand to him, where Osiris lies in his coffin, guarded by serpents.

Under Osiris are the bodies of Enemies that were destroyed. The place where souls are punished is the place of extermination. Nonexistence, it is the Place of Annihilation where the souls are punished by guards with knives.

Meaning of the Caves in the Book of Caverns

Caves are the hell for the enemies of Ra, the place where they meet their bad luck and their punishment.

The caves are a safe place where good spirits are saved and get energy and help to pass through obstacles.