Egyptian scrolls give tips on the afterlife in London show

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A unique exhibition of the Egyptian Book of the Dead, a set of scrolls giving advice on how to get through the afterlife to eternity, goes on display at London's British Museum Thursday.

The museum has one of the biggest papyrus collections of the 3,500-year-old text in the world but has never before put all the manuscripts on show together, due to their fragility and a lack of space.

The Book of the Dead is a text which was left with mummified bodies by the ancient Egyptians. It features spells and hymns to the gods which it was believed would help a dead relative pass through to a state of eternity.

Now visitors have a rare chance to see the manuscripts -- some of which date back to 1600 BC and cannot be exposed to light -- in a show which runs to March 6.

"What we're doing in this exhibition is recreating a journey from life to death," said curator John Taylor.

"It was all about knowledge, used to persuade the gods that you deserved to go to the other world".

Among the highlights of the British Museum's show is a 37-metre (120-foot) long papyrus. This is the longest Book of the Dead in the world and has never been displayed in its entirety.

The scrolls will be exhibited alongside coffins, masks, jewellery and paintings.

© 2010 AFP

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