Book of the Dead of Nestanebetisheru

Vignette from Book of the Dead of Nestanebetisheru; frame 87. Full page black line vignette of Geb, Nut and Shu with three registers either side of adoring ancient Egyptian gatekeepers, ba’s and deities including Thoth. Every figure has an accompanying hieroglyphic label written in black ink.

Geb is shown as a semi-recumbent figure stretching out his limbs while the elongated body of Nut arches above him. Her feet touch the ground at the eastern horizon and her fingers at the western horizon.

Book of the Dead of Nestanebetisheru. British Museum. EA 10554,87
Book of the Dead of Nestanebetisheru

The goddess Nut is supported by a third key-figure, Shu, god of the atmosphere, who is aided in his task by two ram-headed deities. Nestanebetisheru herself kneels at the right, raising her hands in adoration. Her ‘ba’-spirit imitates her gesture, and a group of gods accompany her.

The idea is to consummate the union between Nut and Geb, which produced their four children deities: Osiris, Seth, Isis, and Nephthys, and formed the basis of the emergence of human society in one version of the divine creation story as explained by the Egyptians.

Nestanebetisheru was a daughter of the High Priest of Amun and later King Pinedjem II. She was a Priestess of the god Amun-Re at Thebes among several other priestly functions.

Third Intermediate Period, 21st Dynasty, reign of Pinedjem II, ca. 990-969 BC. Now in the British Museum. EA 10554,87