BELIEFS REGARDING THE DEAD, AT THE LATE PERIOD
As the Egyptians of the decadent period clung to their ancient religious traditions, as though by them only could prosperity be secured, so also in their funerary practices they endeavoured to imitate and retain all that previous centuries had contrived for the welfare of the departed. All kinds of funerary literature that had ever existed was sought out and placed with the dead, either on papyri or in the endless inscriptions on the coffins and tombs. The pyramid texts (p. 88) which had almost fallen into oblivion since the Old Kingdom, once more re-appeared; the texts of the Book of the Dead were embodied in a codex, for which a papyrus roll, very nearly twenty metres in length, was required; the chapters of the Voyage of the Sun were introduced with their usual illustrations on the great stone sarcophagi. And to all this ancient literature smaller books were now added, which claimed to be ancient, although many of them were certainly of recent fabrication. Among them was the lament of Isis and Nephthys over their brother Osiris, which we have already quoted in part (p. 33); there was the Book of Breathings, which was specially popular in Thebes; there was the lament over Sokaris, the ritual of embalming, the Book of the conquest of Apophis, and many others. There must have been much of the early literature which was incomprehensible at this time, for most of the texts were distorted to the verge of meaninglessness; but it was precisely this that made them appear so mysterious, and at this period mystery and incomprehensibility were considered to be the distinguishing marks of what was sacred and venerable.
The royal tombs of the late period are lost to us, but the