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THE EGYPTIAN COFFIN TEXTS (1935-2006) edited by Adrian de Buck and Alan Gardiner (complete in 8 large volumes)

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THE EGYPTIAN COFFIN TEXTS (1935-2006) edited by Adrian de Buck and Alan Gardiner (complete in 8 large volumes)

3,850.00

DE BUCK, Adriaan (Vols I-VII, edited by De Buck and Alan H. GARDINER), and James P. Allen (Vol VIII)

The Egyptian Coffin Texts (Complete in 8 Volumes): Vols I-VII: Texts of Spells I - 1185; Vol VIII: Middle Kingdom Copies of Pyramid Texts

Chicago: The University of Chicago Press (Oriental Institute Publications), 1935-1961, and 2006. All volumes are first editions and were issued separately. Hardcovers. Royal quarto (9 x 12 inches). Vols I-VII bound in two-tone brown cloth. Vol VIII bound in blue buckram, with dust jacket. Introductory material to each volume followed by the Coffin Text Spells which are entirely in hieroglyphic characters, and were originally copied by hand. There are a few explanatory notes in English to most of the pages but these volumes DO NOT include an English translation (Faulkner's classic English translation was done from these volumes, and it is now easy to acquire). Volumes I and II have hieroglyphic text in black and red (mostly black). Vol I (1935): xix, 405; Vol II (1938): xiv, 405; Vol III (1947): xvi, 400; Vol IV (1951): xv, 413; Vol V (1954): xv, 400; Vol VI (1956): xv, 415; Vol VII (1961): xvii, 521 (with 15 folding plans, all present); Vol VIII (2006): xv, 456 pp. Note: This is a very large and heavy set weighing 35 pounds when packaged for shipping. Extra postage will be required for Priority Mail shipping within the U. S. Complete sets of this exhaustive work are extremely rare.

Volumes I-VII all have some rubbing to cloth with an occasional corner bump here and there. Volumes I, II, and VI have a small institutional stamp to upper right rear cover, as well as a small crossed-out stamp of the 'Egyptology Seminar of Karlow University' to title page and copyright page (only the title page for volume VI). Volume VIII is new in dust jacket. This remains a very good set of this ultra-scarce work.

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The Coffin Texts date primarily from the early part of the second millennium BC, and were intended to provide a deceased person, buried in the coffin on which a version of the texts was written, with the speeches (magical spells, words of power, secret names, etc) which would enable him to achieve a secure and important place in the next world.

The Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago's Egyptian Coffin Texts Project first began in 1922. The first scholar to contemplate a complete edition of the Coffin texts was M. Lacau, who had compiled the catalog of the Cairo material. His later appointment to director-general of the Egyptian Service of Antiquities, made it impossible for him to follow through with the project. The project of a complete edition then began to germinate independently in the minds of two scholars, James Breasted and Alan Gardiner. Breasted had conceived the plan of both copying by hand and photographing all existing Coffin texts, while Gardiner thought of continuing along the lines started by Lacau, with the difference that the texts should henceforth be published in autograph (hand-copied) and in vertical columns. Both seriously underestimated the extent and difficulty of the task, and this enabled them to join forces in order to devise a common scheme of work which combined the advantages of photography and hand-copying. Photographs were not included in the finished volumes.

Breasted and Gardiner began copying in 1922, though this was interrupted and delayed by the discovery of the Tomb of Tutankhamen, and with Breasted's increasing obligations he had to retire from the project. At this time Adriaan de Buck joined Gardiner and began copying all the texts in Cairo and Europe, with Gardiner checking his work at regular intervals. The copying of the texts was a lengthy operation (volume I was published in 1935; Volume VII was published in 1961, 2 years after de Buck's death). One of the principles early adopted and faithfully observed was that no text should be regarded as properly copied unless it had been collated by at least two persons. This process was deviated only when copying the coffins located in America; these were copied from photographs and afterwards collated with the originals by de Buck. 

Some of the coffins also had Pyramid Texts and sections of the Book of the Dead. Many of these were not included in the first seven volumes. A share of the Pyramid Texts that were excluded are now presented in Volume 8 (hieroglyphics printed by computer, not hand-copies) published in 2006, which completes the project. This massive undertaking, from the initial idea of the project to its ultimate completion, took 84 years! 

It should be noted once again that there is no English translation of the Coffin Texts included here. That being said, there is something 'magical' about engaging with the hieroglyphs directly. Sounds crazy doesn't it? It's not.