Book of the Dead, an ancient Egyptian religious work. It was a collection of magic spells, prayers, and hymns intended for use by the soul in its journey beyond the grave into the underworld. A papyrus copy of the Book of the Dead was placed in the tomb, or certain passages from it were inscribed on the walls of the tomb or on the mummy case.
There were various versions of the Book of the Dead. No one version has all the known chapters. Portions of the book were inscribed on walls as early as 2600 B.C., and papyrus scroll versions were made as late as the first century B.C. The British Museum has the best collection of such scrolls, including the Papyrus of Ani, which dates from about the 16th century B.C.