As the Egyptian sun fell below the western horizon, it entered the lawless Underworld - and it wasn't guaranteed that it would rise again.
For a dozen hours, the sun god Ra, battled evil demons, determined to foster chaos. The hour-by-hour account of the sun's frightful journey through the Underworld is detailed in the Amduat, “The book of that which is in the Underworld”.
The Amduat chronicled the various perils faced by Ra each hour of the night, before bursting victoriously above the eastern horizon (“God’s Land”) at dawn.
For a deceased pharaoh, the Amduat was a critical document as it contained the directions, spells and secret demon names that the royal soul would need on the nocturnal journey with Ra.
Thankfully, each Egyptian dawn saw the resurrection of the sun-god, Ra, and, for the Egyptians, a powerful symbol of the triumph of life over death.
This has to be one of my favourite vintage photos of all time. Here two 1920s tourists watch as Ra sinks below the horizon from atop the Great Pyramid of Khufu. The women probably felt they had faced their own battle. Ever tried climbing a pyramid in heels?
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