The Pyramid Texts
Pyramid Texts represent the oldest known collection of ancient Egyptian hieroglyphic inscriptions containing what is often called religious texts, elaborate spells (or utterances), hymns, prayers, thousands of lines of fragments of myths and legends, references to mortuary and funerary rites, historical events, festivals. There are also references to astronomical lore and cosmology .
The texts were meticulously recorded on the walls of the pyramids of the kings Unas of the 5th Dynasty, and Teti, Pepi I, Merenre and Pepi II of the 6th Dynasty. All these rulers of Egypt from the 2400 BC to 2200 BC were buried at Saqqara, the ancient necropolis of Memphis.
At first, the texts were intended to protect a dead king or queen and ensure life and sustenance in the afterlife. By the end of the Old Kingdom, specific chapters of the texts were used in non-royal tombs belonging to regional governors and other men of high status.
Unlike later texts, they did not include images but consisted only of purely hieroglyphic writings, divided into paragraphs called Utterances (spells) and seams to be meant to be chanted by those who were reciting them.
The earliest known example of the Pyramid Texts is that found in the pyramid of Unas (Unis) of the 5th Dynasty (2735-2345 BC). Unas was the first pharaoh to have the Pyramid Texts carved and painted inside his pyramid. This tradition was later followed by his successors until the First Intermediate Period (c. 2160-c. 2050 BC).
Translated by Samuel Alfred Browne Mercer