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The chapters contained in this book were originally written to form the Introduction to the Catalogue of the Egyptian Collection in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, which I wrote for the Syndics of that institution; they are intended to supply the information necessary for understanding the object and use of the antiquities described therein. In the hope, however, that they may be of service to all such as are interested in the antiquities of Egypt, it has been decided to publish them in a separate form.

The monuments and remains of ancient Egypt preserved in the great museums of Europe and Egypt are chiefly of a sepulchral character, and we owe them entirely to the belief of the Egyptians that the soul would at some period revivify the body, and to the care, consequent on this belief, with which they embalmed the bodies of their dead, so that they might resist the action of decay, and be ready for the return of the soul. The preservation of the embalmed body, or mummy, was the chief end and aim of every Egyptian who wished for everlasting life. For the sake of the mummy's safety tombs were hewn, papyri were inscribed with compositions, the knowledge of which would enable him to repel the attacks of demons, ceremonies were performed and services were recited; for the sake of the comfort of the mummy and his ka, or genius, the tombs were decorated with scenes which would remind him of those with which he was familiar when upon earth, and they were also provided with many objects used by him in daily life, so that his tomb

might resemble as much as possible his old home. Following up the idea that the mummy is the most important of all objects, I have given an account of the various methods of embalming; of the amulets and other objects which formed the mummy's dress; of the various kinds of coffins and sarcophagi in which he was laid; of the ushabtiu and other figures, stelae, vases, etc., which formed the furniture of a well appointed tomb : and also of the most important classes of tombs hewn or built in different dynasties. In the series of articles which form this account I have given the information

which the experience gained from the service of some years

in the British Museum has shown me to be the most needed

both by those who, though possessing no special knowledge

of Egyptian antiquities, are yet greatly interested in them, and

by those who have formed, or who are about to form, Egyptian

collections. Frequent reference has been made to the great

national collection in the British Museum because the an

tiquities there are accessible to all. With a view of applying

the facts stated in these articles to a particular case, an

account of an Egyptian funeral beginning with the process

of mummifying the body and ending with its deposit in the

tomb has been added.

In the somewhat lengthy chapter on the Rosetta Stone, the evidence of the principal Greek writers on Egyptian hieroglyphics is brought together. The statement of the facts connected with the history of Egyptian decipherment, as well as the extracts from the papers on this subject collected by Leitch in his edition of the Miscellaneous Works by the late Thomas Young, London, 1855, and by Dean Peacock in his Life of Thomas Young, London, 1855, seems to show that the labours of . Akerblad and Young were of more importance than is usually attributed to them ; the views of Egyptologists quoted at the end of that chapter will indicate the prevailing opinion of experts on this matter.


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