Thankfully the Pyramid Texts gave the king peace of mind, 24/7.
Negotiating the Egyptian afterlife was a big job, and a deceased king needed all the help he could get. Each day the priests assigned to his cult would recite a series of spells designed to protect and guide his journey towards joining the gods.
And to guarantee the king's well-being, from the end of the 5th Dynasty, the pharaohs also had these spells carved into the walls of the inner chambers of their pyramids.
The texts ensured that the king or queen would receive that same crucial protection and guidance, without needing regular visits from the priesthood. Some see this as a loss of confidence in the loyalty and commitment of the royal priesthood.
The Pyramid Texts became the great royal insurance policy. It seems that having to rely on regular visits from priests for continued eternal bliss was just too great a risk. The first king to enjoy this peace of mind was Unas, the last king of Egypt's 5th Dynasty (ca. 2,350 B.C.). Who knows what gave Unas such massive trust issues that he felt he needed the extra protection from the Pyramid Texts, rather than rely on the priesthood. Had the priesthood let him down? Perhaps the royal cults of some of his esteemed predecessors had already started to falter and Unas felt that he needed help to guarantee his afterlife.
Unas' Pyramid Texts contain 283 separate utterances, or spells. In all, more than 800 are known from this pyramid and those of the 6th Dynasty. Later, the Pyramid Texts would evolve into the Egyptian 'Book of the Dead', an afterlife survival guide that was available to anyone who could afford it, not just royalty.
This photo, inside the Pyramid of Unas at Saqqara, looks west from the pyramid's antechamber into the king's burial chamber. Dr. Jeremy Naydler describes the first view a visitor to Unas' pyramid has of the Pyramid Texts:
"At the end of the corridor, the first chamber of the pyramid to be entered is the antechamber. Here it is possible to stand up, and to have the experience of being encompassed on all sides by the blue-tinted hieroglyphs, which seem almost tangibly to emanate a magical power and to saturate the chamber with a mysterious potency."
Photo: Kazuyohi Nomachi