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If you can't get to Egypt anytime soon, take John McDonald's informative tour of beloved Queen Nefertari's tomb, which has only been open to the public since 1995. The beautifully structured House of Eternity is replete with full-color photographs of the contrasting desert landscape, the elaborate tomb, and the paintings. Included are explanations of the hieroglyphs and artwork, plus interesting snippets from Nefertari's culture. For example, the queen's own status wasn't enough to make her powerful in the afterlife. The magical chapter 17 from the Egyptian Book of the Dead contains a spell that is painted on Nefertari's tomb walls to assure her transformation from playing senet, to becoming a "ba" bird, then finally worshipping a lion-headed god. To ensure success, the spell ends right at the doorway that marks the burial chamber.
Most souls were believed to experience the judgment of Osiris--not so with Nefertari, whose tomb contains no mention of this trial. In fact, most of the gods seem to be greeting Nefertari and urging her through the many passages to Necropolis, the city of the dead. Although the annexes are not open to the public, McDonald has included a photograph and discussion of the only evidence of Nefertari in mummified form.
With descriptions of the Egyptian gods and the people's beliefs about death being an eternity, McDonald reveals the magnificent culture behind the fragility of the restoration of this art, funded by the Getty Foundation. --Susan Swartwout
In 1904, the tomb of Nefertari, great wife of Rameses II, was discovered in the Valley of the Queens at Thebes. It is widely considered one of the most beautiful Egyptian tombs, in large part because of its complex and finely crafted program of wall paintings. Between 1986 and 1992, the Egyptian Antiquities Organization and the Getty Conservation Institute worked together to halt the destruction that occurred since the tomb's opening. Now, in House of Eternity: The Tomb of Nefertari, Egyptologist John K. McDonald describes the tomb's construction and offers a chamber-by-chamber guide to its iconography.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.