The Pyramid Texts

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The Pyramid Texts

Translation by Samuel A. B. Mercer

Professor Emeritus of Semitic Languages and Egyptology
Trinity College in the University of Toronto




Scanned at, May 2004. John Bruno Hare, redactor. This text is in the public domain because it was not registered or renewed in a timely fashion at the US Copyright Office. GATT renewal does not apply to this work because it was published simultaneously in Toronto and New York. These files may be used for any non-commercial purpose, provided this notice of attribution is left intact in all copies.

The Pyramid Texts were funerary inscriptions that were written on the walls of the early Ancient Egyptian pyramids at Sakkara. These date back to the fifth and sixth dynasties, approximately the years 2350-2175 B.C.E. However, because of extensive internal evidence, it is believed that they were composed much earlier, circa 3000 B.C.E. The Pyramid Texts are, therefore, essentially the oldest sacred texts known.

Samuel Mercer was the first to produce a complete English translation of this mysterious text, in 1952. This was also the first complete translation in any language. The Mercer translation was followed by the R.O. Faulkner translation in 1969, which is considered the standard today. However, this does not diminish the usefulness of Mercer’s version, particularly because it has fallen into the public domain and is now available freely online here at sacred-texts, the first complete version of the Pyramid Texts on the Interent.

The Pyramid Texts

  1. Nut and the Deceased King, Utterances 1-11
  2. Ritual of Bodily Restoration of the Deceased, and Offerings, Utterances 12-203
  3. A Group of Prayers And Charms, Utterances 204-212
  4. A Series of Old Heliopolitan Texts Partly Osirianized, Utterances 213-222
  5. The Deceased King Receives Offerings and is Re-Established in His Functions and Possessions, Utterances 223-225
  6. Mostly Serpent Charms, Utterances 226-243
  7. The Deceased King Arrives in Heaven Where He is Established, Utterances 244-259
  8. The Deceased King Triumphs Over His Enemies and is Recognized by the Gods, Utterances 260-262
  9. Means Whereby the Deceased King Reaches Heaven, Utterances 263-271
  10. The Deceased King in Heaven, Utterances 272-274
  11. Charms, Utterances 275-299
  12. The Ferryman and the Deceased King’s Ascension, Utterances 300-311
  13. A Series of Five Charms, Utterances 312-316
  14. Miscellaneous Utterances on the Career of the Deceased King in the Hereafter, 317-337
  15. Offerings for the Deceased King, Utterances 338-349
  16. Miscellaneous Utterances on the Hereafter, 350-374
  17. Conjurations and Charms, Utterances 375-400
  18. Utterances Concerning Well-Being, Especially Food and Clothes, 401-426
  19. In Praise of Nut, Utterances 427-435
  20. Miscellaneous Texts–Some Largely Osirian, Utterances 436-442
  21. Second Series in Praise of Nut, Utterances 443-452
  22. A Miscellaneous Group, Utterances 453-486
  23. A Series of Food Texts, Utterances 487-502
  24. A Series of Reed-Floats and Ferryman Texts, Utterances 503-522
  25. Miscellaneous Texts Chiefly About the Deceased King’s Reception and Life in Heaven, Utterances 523-533
  26. For The Protection of the Pyramid Enclosure Against Osiris and His Cycle, Utterance 534
  27. Texts of Miscellaneous Contents, Utterances 535-538
  28. A Litany of Ascension, Utterance 539
  29. Texts of Miscellaneous Contents, Utterances 540-552
  30. Resurrection, Meal, and Ascension of the Deceased King, Utterance 553
  1. Texts of Miscellaneous Contents, Utterances 554-562
  2. A Purification Litany, Utterance 563
  3. Texts of Miscellaneous Contents, Utterances 564-569
  4. New-Birth of the Deceased King as a God in Heaven, Utterance 570
  5. Texts of Miscellaneous Contents, Utterances 571-575
  6. The Resurrection and Ascension of the Deceased King, Utterance 576
  7. The Resurrection of Osiris with whom the Gods are Satisfied, Utterance 577
  8. Texts of Miscellaneous Contents, Utterances 578-586
  9. An Early Hymn to the Sun, Utterance 587
  10. Texts of Miscellaneous Contents, Utterances 588-600
  11. A Litany-Like Incantation for the Endurance of a Pyramid and Temple, Utterance 601
  12. Texts of Miscellaneous Contents, Utterances 602-605
  13. The Resurrection, Ascension, and Reception of the Deceased King in Heaven, Utterance 606
  14. Texts of Miscellaneous Contents, Utterances 607-609
  15. The Deceased King on Earth and in Heaven Utterance 610
  16. Texts of Miscellaneous Contents, Utterances 611-626
  17. The Ascended King, His Works, and Identifications, Utterance 627
  18. Texts of Miscellaneous Contents, Utterances 628-658
  19. The Death of the King and His Arrival in Heaven, Utterance 659
  20. Texts of Miscellaneous Contents, Utterances 660-669
  21. The Death, Resurrection, and Spiritualization of the King, Utterance 670
  22. Texts of Miscellaneous Contents, Utterances 671-675
  23. Resurrection, Transfiguration, and Life of the King in Heaven, Utterance 676
  24. Texts of Miscellaneous Contents, Utterances 677-683
  25. The Deceased King Ascends to Heaven, Utterance 684
  26. Texts of Miscellaneous Contents, Utterances 685-689
  27. A Series of Addresses to the Deceased King as a God, Utterance 690
  28. Texts of Miscellaneous Contents, Utterances 691-704
  29. A Series of Unclassifiable Fragments, Utterances 705-714


The Pyramid Texts of Ancient Egypt are the oldest large body of written material in the world. They are incised on limestone in thousands of lines of hieroglyphics, containing fragments of myths and legends, historical references and astronomical lore, geography and cosmology, religion and rituals, systems of theology, festivals, magic and morals, and with a literary technique capable of expressing the finest religious and ethical thoughts.

The purpose of this work is to furnish in English a translation and commentary of these texts–a translation and commentary which make use of all the texts at present extant and known to the author, and which is designed to be a standard but interim work in this subject until such time in the future as all remaining pyramid texts will have been discovered, which will then, it is hoped, make possible the writing of a complete and definitive work.

The contribution of this publication will be the first translation in English of the ancient Pyramid Texts; the first complete translation and full commentary of the Texts in any language; and an addition to the hieroglyphic text of Sethe of over four hundred lines (in translation) from the pyramids of Neit and Pepi II, in addition to the filling of many lacunae in the body of his text from Neit, Pepi II, and other pyramids, tombs and sarcophagi, discovered since the publication of Sethe’s unfinished translation and commentary in German after his death in 1934. Fuller details of these texts, their discovery, nature, extent, and value are given in the introduction.

There still remains the pleasant duty of acknowledging here the immediate help in the preparation of this publication given by the author’s colleagues and friends. And first I would mention the kind aid and assistance given me by Dr. Ludlow Bull of the Metropolitan Museum of New York who with the consent of Charles Breasted allowed me to read the late Professor J. H. Breasted’s penciled copy of translated portions of the Pyramid Texts, and who with his colleague in the Museum, Dr. William C. Hayes, aided me in many ways. I would also thank Dr. John D. Cooney and Mrs. Elizabeth Riefstahl of the Brooklyn Museum for their many kindnesses, as well as Dr. Drioton of Cairo, Dr. Grapow of Berlin and Professor Garnot of Paris. The memory of the help of others, such as the late Professors Sethe, Gunn, and Breasted, will always remain with me. And the published works of these three scholars, together with those especially of Professor Kees, have been my daily companions. I have an especially deep sense of gratitude to express to the writers of Excursuses, Professors Drioton, Kees, Garnot, Schott, van de Walle, M. Lacau, and Mr. Robert Briggs, in whose essays I have followed as closely as possible the form in which they were submitted to me. The assistance of the Reverend Father Keller, a former pupil of mine, not only in many details in the preparation of this work, but also and especially in the full and complete indexes to the translation which he has contributed, has been a great help and a priceless contribution. Also his map, made especially for the Pyramid Texts, will be found to serve its purpose well. In reading proof, Father Keller and Mr. Briggs have not only avoided many an error in detail, but have also made valuable contributions to the interpretation and illustration of many a difficult passage. Finally, Miss Seville Marshall, who has typed these hundreds of pages, has accomplished, as an expert in her art, a first-class task. But this work could not have been published had it not had the good fortune of receiving a substantial grant from the Zion Research Foundation, who have already on other occasions shown their enlightened interest in the publication of works in the realm of Biblical and religious research. To this Foundation, and especially to their secretary, Mr. Wilfred B. Wells, and board, the author expresses his most cordial thanks. Nor could the work of printing and publishing have been so efficiently and satisfactorily done without the cordial cooperation of Messrs. Longmans, Green and Company, who have done everything in their power to satisfy us.


Worcester, Massachusetts
August, 1952

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