Raising the ba: Wildlife and the Ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead

By Ruth D’Alessandro, The Wildlife Gardener The Wildlife Gardener is partial to a bit of papyrology. Egypt old and new has been a substantial part of my life and I can never tire of looking at tomb paintings and hieroglyphics. So we were particularly thrilled when Ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead: Journey through the Afterlife exhibition opened at The British Museum.

Triumphant ba

On a grey January day, heads fuzzy with the malaise of an overlong festive season and desperate for some culture, we headed for Bloomsbury with our wise and wonderful friend Sara, to the fabulous womb-like exhibition space that has been created within the British Museum’s historic Reading Room. So what has The Book of the Dead got to do with wildlife? Apart from mummifying cats and depicting their gods with jackal and falcon heads, were the Egyptians great observers of fauna and flora? The answer is yes: exquisite observers, and often with a liberal pinch of humour too. Observations of nature are scattered liberally throughout the papyri: nature lovingly depicted and recorded. Continue reading Raising the ba: Wildlife and the Ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead