on the northern wall of Sennedjem's tomb, located at
Deir El Medina, is this beautifully intact mural of
Osiris, God of the ancient Egyptian Underworld. When
Gaston Maspero discovered the tomb in 1886, nothing
had been disturbed, yet, of the 11 mummies found, only
1 head survived the trip to the Institut Français d'Archéologie
Orientale. Happily, effort has been made to preserve
the richly colored walls over which Osiris presides,
as the images depict a journey into the afterlife.
story of Osiris and his magical family, though sounding
like a soap opera, gave the ancient Egyptians clues
and symbols of how to achieve a good life, a good
death and immortality.
The Story of Osiris ~
years ago an extraordinary man visited Egypt. He
brought with him his wife, Isis, his sister Nephthys and
his brother, Seth. As this man, Osiris, traveled through
the land he realized that the people had difficulty finding
enough food to eat even though they lived in a paradise.
He decided to stay and teach them how to irrigate
and use tools
for farming. The results were so good that the people wanted
Osiris to be their king. When Seth heard about this he became
jealous. Planning his revenge, Seth invite rich and prominent
Egyptians to a party. Osiris and his wife are also invited
but Isis, who is pregnant, doesn't feel well and stays home.
party Seth brings out a huge ebony & ivory box. The guests
'ooh' & 'ah' and say "Gee, I sure wish I had a box like
that in my living room!" Seth replies that whoever can fit
into the box perfectly may have it. Many try, many fail.
Then Osiris gets in. Not only is it a perfect fit, but Seth
& his henchmen slam on the lid, nail it shut and throw out
the other frightened guests. Seth conjures a terrible storm,
takes the box to the Nile and dumps it into the water to
drown his brother. As soon as the box sinks, the storm becomes
Osiris did not come home that evening, Isis got worried
and went to look for him. No one would tell her anything
until she asked the children. They were not afraid to talk
and told her where the box had washed up on the shore. Now
Isis knows magic and was about to return her husband to
life when she felt birth pains. She hid the box in the reeds
and goes to her sister's house to have her baby. The next
day Seth comes by in a boat, hunting and feeling very pleased
with himself that he is now king. He accidentally finds
the box and is outraged. He chops up the box & his brother
and rides up and down the Nile throwing parts overboard
into the mud on the banks of the Nile.
Isis returns with her baby son Horus, she cannot find the
box. Again, only the children will tell her what happened.
She collects all the pieces of Osiris and puts them back
together like a puzzle. When she wraps them together with
strips of linen fabric she makes the first Egyptian mummy.
Her magic is not strong enough to bring him back to this
life, however she can bring him back to life in the afterlife,
which she does. There he becomes king once more - King of
of the Osiris Tale
things that seem bad can become beneficial. When Seth
threw the coffin overboard during the storm, he did
not know that Osiris used his magic to stop the storm,
but not the flood. This is the inundation
of the Nile that brings new water to the land to nourish
plants. (Priests used Nilometers
to monitor the annual rise and fall of the water of
the Nile.) When Seth cut up Osiris' body and buried
the pieces in the mud, this allowed Osiris' magic
to infuse the soil with his life-giving abilities.
When Osiris became King of the underworld, he made
sure that plants would move upward, out of the ground
to find the sunlight. This is the story of spring,
Egyptian-style. The ancient Egyptians depicted Osiris
with green skin and a 'flowery' crown to symbolize
his closeness to vegetation, and is seen as a mummy.
Horus grows up he battles Seth for vengeance and the
thrown. Even though he wins, Horus' eyes are badly damaged.
He is healed by some of his magical relatives and his
eyes become the symbols of the sun and moon, regeneration,
prosperity and spiritual abilities. His all-seeing nature
is protection from evil. It also symbolized security
of kingship and the name Horus was added to the pharaohs'
name when he took the thrown.