Jiří Janák and Renata Landgráfová, Czech Institute of Egyptology, Prague

Guardians of Gates: an Unusual Assemblage of Demons in Menekhibnekau‘s Book of the Dead Chapter 144

The Saite-Persian shaft tomb necropolis at Abusir is a rich source of texts and images attesting to the continuity and change of Egyptian funerary beliefs. While the textually richest of these tombs is that of Iufaa, the burial chamber of the roughly contemporary tomb of the high dignitary Menekhibnekau is literally filled with texts and representations, and includes, on its southern wall, a representation of the seven gates of Book of the Dead 144 with a group of three named demons pertaining to each. The text of the chapter then follows in columns underneath these representations, which fill two large registers of the arch of the wall. The aim of this paper is to investigate the nature of these demons and the reasons for their inclusion in Book of the Dead 144, the vignette of which usually includes gates with one or two generic demon figures, and not the highly differentiated and individualistic, as well nas named, demons that appear in Menekhibnekau. In this connection, it is important to note that the sarcophagus of Psusennes provides a link between Menekhibnekau’s gate guardians and demon processions of Late Period sarcophagi (such as the one appearing on the inner basalt sarcophagus of Iufaa, which will be presented by L. Bareš), as his demons bear names known from Book of the Dead 144. Thus, also the connections between Book of the Dead Chapter 144 and guardian demon processions will be investigated in order to interpret Menekhibnekau’s unusual demon triplets.

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