The Amduat papyrus on loan to the ‘Under the sky of Nut. Divine Egypt’ exhibition in Milan

The Museum of Archaeology of the University of Pavia possesses a precious papyrus from the Book of Amduat, which was loaned to the Civic Archaeological Museum of Milan for the temporary exhibition Under the sky of Nut. Divine Egypt, 11 March 2020 – 20 December 2020. The finds selected for the exhibition come from the Egyptian collection of the Civic Archaeological Museum of Milan and from other important Italian institutions: the Egyptian Museum of Turin, the National Archaeological Museum of Florence, the Civic Archaeological Museum of Bologna, the Civic Museum of Antiquities “J.J. Winckelmann” of Trieste, and the Museum of Archaeology of the University of Pavia.

Due to the health emergency, the inauguration of the exhibition scheduled for March was postponed to Saturday 30 May 2020.

The papyrus scroll was donated to the University of Pavia in 1825 by Eduard Rüppell, a naturalist and zoologist from Frankfurt am Main. He conducted studies at the University of Pavia and travelled extensively in North-eastern Africa and in the Middle East, collecting naturalistic and archaeological finds.

The scroll has been preserved in two fragments which are now readable once rejoined, unrolled and set up in an under-glass frame. It illustrates with drawings and explanatory hieroglyphs, extracted from the twelfth hour of the night, the journey by boat of the sun god Ra from sunset to dawn, accompanied by other deities and the sacred scarab. On his way towards the sunlight, the god is threatened by Apopi, the giant serpent god of the dark. According to the religion of the ancient Egyptians, creation is conceived as a generative process which repeats continuously, at the basis of which is the daily cycle of the sun. He dies every evening to be reborn every morning, delivered by the sky goddess, Nut. In order to regenerate himself, he must complete a nocturnal journey in the underground and dark world, dominated by potentially destructive forces.

These type of papyrus scrolls were placed in the tombs next to the sarcophagi of the mummies to accompany the deceased on the journey to the beyond, symbolically represented in the papyrus itself by the journey of the sun god.

Unfortunately, we do not know the name of the deceased which this papyrus followed on his/her otherworldly journey, nor do we know the exact place of the discovery. However, it is supposed to come from the necropolis of Thebes and can be dated back to the second part of the New Kingdom (1550-1069 B.C.).

The museum and the exhibition are open Saturday and Sunday from 11am to 6pm. Reservations are required on the platform The temporary exhibition is included in the usual itinerary of the Archaeological Museum of Milan, with no additional costs.