"Take the two Eyes of Horus, the black and the white one. Take them for yourself to your face so they may illuminate your face."
This is Utterance 43, part of the Pyramid Texts carved into the walls surrounding the royal sarcophagus in the burial chamber in the Pyramid of Unas (Old Kingdom, Dynasty 5, ca. 2350 B.C.)
As Utterance 43 was being read, a white jar and black jar were held up and offered to the king, symbolising his newly reanimated eyes, now beholding heaven.
The Pyramid Texts were carved on the walls and sarcophagi of the pyramids at Saqqara during the 5th and 6th Dynasties of the Old Kingdom. The oldest, belong to King Unas, the last king of Dynasty 5.
These texts were read aloud by priests during the king's internment in his pyramid, and then echoed in eternity, forever protecting the pharaoh's remains, reviving his body after death, and helping him ascend to the realm of the gods.
While the pyramid texts were the privilege of royalty, the king could grant funerary rites to favoured courtiers, allowing ritual texts to be read out for their burial. Palace control over the afterlife wasn't to last, however. The Coffin Texts appeared some 300 years after the first Pyramid Texts, granting access to eternity for anyone who could afford the funerary rites and decorated coffin.
The bronze eyes pictured adorned a mummy mask made during Egypt's Late Period, nearly 2,000 years after King Unas began his adventures in the afterlife. The eyes are inlaid with alabaster and black glass.
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