The Duat and The Osireion

Part of By author Mark David: Twitter @authorMarkDavid

header photo courtesy of Eduardo Pi Peret

We remained long on this elevated platform to enjoy the vision of that wondrous plain. On that pinnacle of thought, the mind is wrapped in the magnificent contemplation of sublime and simple forms. All nature seems reduced to the single elements of her origin, and the soul, seized by the absorbing developments of the Trinity of the universe, is elevated to adoration, under the vaulted purity of that spotless and transparent ether which canopies the heaven above; and dwells with wonder upon the boundless expanse of a desert which finds no limit in the horizon, to repose among the luxuriant pastures of the permeating Nile, which moves along in the bright sereneness, as a principle of life, to animate the apathetic waste, and revivify, with conquering energy, that weary empire of interminable sand.

Thus were words written in the book Waraga, Charms Of The Nile by William Furniss in 1850.

Extract from the diary of Karl Oskar Eklund:

‘Furniss’s words was the starting point researching Egyptian myths and legends, breathing them to life in a universe that knows no bounds, limited only by the relations through time itself, illsutrating the notion of fate, the deeds of man and the relationships in the past and that help to define the actions in the present – all with repercussions in the future.

This time perspective has since been developed, such that the actions themselves become involved in rediscovering the ancient past, the ideas and doctrines of which still live with us – in a day when many seek to learn what was to ancient man discovery on the path of wisdom. This story of the past is therefore written to provide an example of how researching the past is contributing towards gaining an understanding, from which we may achieve knowledge of the world and the greater Universe beyond.’

‘The reservoir of Abydos being of a similar composition, but of much larger materials, is of a still more archaic character, and I would not be surprised if this were the most ancient structure in Egypt’

Annual Report from the Smithsonian Institute, 1914

Egyptian Beginnings

Darkness: The Duat. The Kingdom of the dead is, perhaps, no more apparent in a real world setting today than can be seen and visited at the Osireion at Abydos, Egypt. The Kingdom of the dead that is also the abode of Osiris: The god whose land lies in darkness, whose fields are turned to sand, whose graves serve silence, whose call no one hears, unable to rise, limbs immobile. Hades, (Osiris reincarnate).

Absolute dark: That was the term Ansley used to describe a dark so dark, even dark was light by comparison. A black so black because there was simply nothing that could be called light, nothing at all. Not even the tiniest speck of it, no moon, no stars, not even the faintest prick of it. Nothing.

The Kingdom of the Dead

Duat, according to Eklund, believed to have knowledge from the esoteric painter Ikim Agar, is ‘the kingdom of the dead’ – portrayed as a dark and damp place, intoxicated by the primeval waters of the god Nun (=primeval water) flowing through the underworld. Nun is to be understood as both a god and the attribute of the underworld. This story works on the hypothesis that the primeval waters were a feature of the Osireion, at Abydos.

Abydos has revealed itself to be one of the most important archaeological sites in Egypt. It is the site of the pre-dynastic royal graveyard, which has revealed some interesting links with Sumeria; and of the Osireion, an enigmatic underground chamber connected to the Nile called by the Greeks as the Memnonium.

The Osireion can be called an ‘anomaly’ – the scientific euphemism for “mystery.” Mainstream archaeologists usually deal with such anomalies by either ignoring them (because they don’t know how to explain them), or using inconclusive evidence to fit them into the accepted time framework.

Entered from an underground passage, this simple complex of a central space with columns and carved chambers is fashioned from enormous blocks of granite the style of which is comparable only with that seen at the Valley temple, Giza. The temple of the Sixth Dynasty Seti I was later built over this site, which dates from an earlier time. Abydos has been called One of the holiest places in Egypt from the very earliest of times.

What follows is a development from the original blog, detailing the specifics of the Osireion… used in many respects to construct something that is fiction, but could be real.

They had called it Das Labyrinth. But it wasn’t Das Labyrinth he thought about, since there was no more kerosene and all they had left was Ansley’s lighter, and even that had turned out to be less than useful. So hot had it become, forced to sit it out in the middle of a passage no wider than could admit one person, their resting place besides a shaft, at the bottom of which could be seen the colors of stone and gold leaf from a profusion of amulets, eyes, hearts, scarabs, figures of gods and spiritual objects; some in alabaster, some in porcelain, some in carnelian, lazuli and crystal of a kind that glowed light blue Joachim had never seen before.

Details Concerning the Osireion

Almost flush with the water table and therefore the Nile, it is likely the Osireion was always part filled with water, leaving a central plinth protruding like an island in the center. Submerged staircases in the temple floor descended into underwater chambers.

Inside, the Osireion is one of the only two examples in Egypt of monolithic granite architecture made from rose-colored Aswan granite (the other is the Valley Temple next to the Sphinx — another “anomaly”). The red granite blocks you see in the picture weigh up to 100 tons.

Both structures were made from large pillars. Two rows running along the length with five pillars in each, creating a central chamber. Both structures were covered over, and both were associated with the Nile. The Osireion has 17 chambers running along the walls while the Valley Temple has 17 sockets in the floor for statues. Naville, who excavated the site in 1913–14, immediately recognized the similarities between Khafre’s Valley Temple at Giza and the Osireion, and concluded that they were of the same Old Kingdom era.

Both Giza and the Osireion show the same specific masonry technique. The same ‘maneuvering protuberances’ were left on the otherwise finished blocks. These are the only two known examples of this technique in early dynastic structures.

Joachim had been the one to climb down. If Karl Oskar had left then, it would have been doubtful Joachim would ever have been able to climb out again. Fortunately for Joachim, Karl Oskar stayed; Karl Oskar was Joachim’s friend.

‘If we ever get out of here, I’m going to dedicate my life to bringing these miserable places to the light of day,’ Karl Oskar said.

And so he did.


The Osirion is the only temple known from Ancient Egypt to be built below ground level. With, perhaps, the exception of the Labyrinth at Hawara should excavations prove the theory that a hidden underground level that even Herodotus was forbidden on entering prove to be true.

The Osireion is one of those places on earth where you stand in awe of history:

‘The other hypothesis was that this was the building for the special worship of Osiris and the celebration of the Mysteries, and this appears to me to be the true explanation, for many reasons. Each reason may not be convincing in itself, but the accumulation of evidence goes to prove the case. There is no tomb even among the Tombs of the Kings that is like it in plan, none having the side chamber leading off the Great Hall. Then, again, no tomb has ever been found attached to a temple; the converse is often the case, I mean a temple attached to a tomb; but this, as far as we can judge, is a kind of extra chapel, a “hidden shrine” as the mythological texts express it, belonging to the temple.

It is only to be expected that Osiris, one of the chief deities of Egypt, should have a special place of worship at Abydos, where he was identified with the local god. And that it should be a part of the temple dedicated to the worship of the dead, and which had special chambers set apart for the celebration of the Osirian mysteries is very natural likewise. The building lies immediately in the axis of the temple; a line drawn through the temple and the desert pylon to the Royal Tombs passes through the sloping passage and across the center of the Great Hall. This is not the result of an accident, the temple being older than the hypogeum, but shows that both were dedicated to the same worship.

The sculptures in the Great Hall are the Vivification of Osiris by Horus, and the offering of incense by Merenptah; between the two sculptures is inscribed chapter cxlii of the “Book of the Dead”, the “Chapter of knowing the Names of Osiris”. The other chapters of the “Book of the Dead” inscribed on the walls were pronounced by M. Maspero, when he saw them, to be the “Book of Osiris”. The books of “Gates” and of “Am Duat”, which are sculpted and painted on the north passage, were said by the ancient Egyptians to have had their origin in the decorations which Horus executed on the walls of the tomb of his father Osiris.’

Extract by Archaeologist Margaret Alice Murray

According to Schwaller de Lubitz, the French esotericist, alchemist, and Egyptologist, Egyptian civilization appeared complete at its beginning. There is no sign of a period of development; if anything, it only deteriorated from its outset. Sir Flinders Petrie, unlike modern archaeologists, was quite willing to accept the existence of an earlier, yet undiscovered civilization in Egypt.

Osiris was believed to have been a king in pre-historic, legendary times.

Ancient Egyptian documents refer to the period when Egypt was ruled by Shemsu Hor (the Followers of Horus), a group that transmitted knowledge to a primitive, Neolithic culture of the pre-Dynastic Egypt.

Annual Report from the Smithsonian Institute, 1914, pp. 579–585.

Excavations at Abydoss: Naville, Edouard. (Extract)

‘There is no longer any doubt, then, that we have discovered what Strabo calls the well or the fountain of Abydos. He spoke of it as being near the temple, at a great depth, and remarkable for some corridors whose ceilings were formed of enormous monolithic blocks. That is exactly what we have found.

These cells were 17 in number, 6 on each of the long sides. There was one in the middle of the wall at the back; in passing through it one came in the rear of the large hall which was the tomb of Osiris. A careful study of the sculptures confirmed the opinion that this was a funeral hall where the remains of the god were expected to be found. But this hall did not form part of the original edifice. It must have been constructed underground when Seti I built the temple of the god. The tomb of Osiris was very near the great reservoir. Nothing revealed its presence; the entrance to it was exactly like that to all the other cells, the back of it being walled up after they had dug through it…

We have as yet no certain indications of the date of the construction; but the style, the size of the materials, the complete absence of all ornamentation, all indicate very great antiquity. Up to present time what is called the temple of the Sphinx at Gizeh has always been considered one of the most ancient edifices of Egypt. It is contemporaneous with the pyramid of Chefren…

‘The reservoir of Abydos being of a similar composition, but of much larger materials, is of a still more archaic character, and it would not be surprised if this were the most ancient structure in Egypt.’