The first vestiges we have of the Book of the Earth appear in the tombs of Merneptah(tomb),Tausert(tomb) andRamesses III
(tomb), where two scenes that wold later be including in the complete composition are depicted on the left wall of their sarcophaguschambers. They serve as a counterpart to the concluding representations of theBook of Caverns. We also find the solarbarqueatop
Akeras a double sphinx as an individual scene from Merneptah on, and in theTomb of Ramesses IV, it concludes the representation
in the decoration of his tomb.In thetomb of Ramesses VI, all the decorated walls of the sarcophagus chamber have scenes from the Book of the Earth, though in
thetomb of Ramesses VII, only one register depicts the scenes from parts D and C. Finally,Ramesses IXuses two scenes from part
A inhis tomb. All of the examples of this book appear within the sarcophagus chambers of the royal tombs, including one scenerepresented on the actual sarcophagus of Ramesses IV. Later, individual scenes also occur on several sarcophagi of theLate Period.
We also find individual scenes from the Book of the Earth in thecenotaphof Seti IatAbydos, as well as in the tomb of Osorkon II
atTanis. The section of the Book of the Earth that Painkoff called the Book of Akeroccurs on Papyri of the21st Dynasty, together
with variations on the resurrection scene in A2, the tombs of Petamenophis and Padineith, TT197 of the26th DynastyatThebes,
and Lepsius 23 atSaqqara . We also see, from the Late Period, the depiction of Nutfrom part D in the tomb of Aba (TT36) and the
scene of the birth of the stars on a cartonnage from theRamesseum.
Jean-Francois Champollionpublished the scenes and texts in the sarcophagus chamber of Ramesses VIin his Monuments de
l'Egypte: Notices descriptives (Paris 1844, vol. 2, pp. 576-578), and later, a part of the composition was also published by Lefeburein his Notices des hypogees (Cairo, 1889). However, it wasAlexandre Piankoff who actually provided the foundation for real studyof the composition with his edition of it in 1953. Bruno H. Stricker provided an explanation of the book as a divine embryology in1963, while Winfried Barta and Friedrich Abitz have been responsible for investigating the composition and meaning of the text.
The Structure of the Book of the Earth
In the Book of the Earth, just as in theBook of Caverns, the hours of the night are not divided into sections, and the solarbarqueis
largely missing as an aid to orientation. Though the original composition was probably divided into three registers, the registers inthe surviving work are uncertain. Hence, the composition seems like a loose sequence of scenes. Because of the incompletecondition of his sarcophagus chamber which gives rise to various transpositions of materials, it is very uncertain whether thetombof Ramesses VIprovides a complete example of the Book of the Earth. Like the Book of Caverns, portions of it appear on the sides
of several pillars. Scholars such as Abitz believe that the Book of the Earth, like the Book of Caverns, consists of two halves of which only one contains scenes of punishment. Like the Book of Caverns, the Book of the Earth uses the sun disk as a reoccurringtheme, while the solarbarqueonly makes rare appearances.The directions of the scenes are mostly all oriented to the right and there is no visible morning goal, nor is there depicted the entryinto the netherworlds. In thetomb of Ramesses VI, the divisions of the book run right to left, which is contrary to the usual
arrangement. Piankoff recognized four parts, which were lettered A-D, while Abitz added further scenes on three pillar sides asparts E. He further theorizes that part D. with its praying king, represents the beginning of the composition, as at the beginning of the corridor of the Osireion. Further more, he believes part B belongs in part A, and part C to be a part of D. Barta insteaddesignates the sequences of scenes from the sarcophagus chamber of Ramesses VIIandRamesses IXas part E, with the last scenes
derived from a wide variety of books. Part A in the tomb of Ramesses VI portrays a clear central axis that has probably led to
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