Little is known of the history of the PER-T EM HRU after the downfall of the priests of Amen, and during the period of the
rule of the Nubians, but under the kings of the XXVIth dynasty page 11
page 12the Book enjoyed a great vogue. Many funerary rolls were written both in hieroglyphs and hieratic, and were decorated with
vignettes drawn in black outline; and about this time the scribes began to write funerary texts in the demotic character.
But men no longer copied long selections from the PER-T EM HRU as they had done under the XVIIIth, XIXth and XXth page 13 dynasties, partly because the religious views of the Egyptians had undergone a great change, and partly because a number
of Books of the Dead of a more popular character had appeared. The cult of Osiris was triumphant everywhere, and men preferred
the hymns and litanies which dealt with his sufferings, death and resurrection to the compositions in which the absolute supremacy
of Rā and his solar cycle of gods and goddesses was assumed or proclaimed. Thus, in the "Lamentations of Isis" and the "Festival
Songs of Isis and Nephthys," and the "Litanies of Seker," and the "Book of Honouring Osiris," etc., the central figure is
Osiris, and he alone is regarded as the giver of everlasting life. The dead were no longer buried with large rolls of papyrus
filled with Chapters of the PER-T EM HRU laid in their coffins, but with small sheets or strips of papyrus, on which were
inscribed the above compositions, or the shorter texts of the "Book of Breathings," or the "Book of Traversing Eternity,"
or the "Book of May my name flourish," or a part of the "Chapter of the Last Judgment."
A copy of a Book of the Dead entitled "May my name flourish!"
[Brit. Mus., No. 10,304.]
Ancient Egyptian tradition asserts that the Book PER-T EM HRU was used early in the Ist dynasty, and the papyri and coffins
of the Roman Period afford evidence that the native page 14Egyptians still accepted all the essential beliefs and doctrines contained in it. During the four thousand years of its existence
many additions were made to it, but nothing of importance seems to have been taken away from it. In the space here available
it is impossible to describe in detail the various Recensions of this work, viz., (1) the Heliopolitan, (2) the Theban and
its various forms, and (3) the Saïte; but it is proposed to sketch briefly the main facts of the Egyptian Religion which may
be deduced from them generally, and especially from the Theban Recension, and to indicate the contents of the principal Chapters.
No one papyrus can be cited as a final authority, for no payprus contains all the Chapters, 190 in number, of the Theban Recension,
and in no two papyri are the selection and sequence of the Chapters identical, or is the treatment of the vignettes the same.
1 The longest papyrus in the world is Papyrus Harris No. 1 (Brit. Mus. No. 9999); it measures 133 feet by 1 foot 4½ inches.