Towards a Better Understanding of the Opening of the Mouth Ritual

Towards a Better Understanding of the Opening of the Mouth Ritual

By Mariam Ayad

Proceedings of the Ninth International Congress of Egyptologists, Grenoble 6-12 September 2004, edited by J-C Goyon and C. Cardin; Orientalia Lovaniensia Analecta 150 (Leuven: Peeters, 2007)

Introduction: Recent work on the funerary chapel of Amenirdis I at Meditnet Habu has proved her selections from the Opening of the Mouth ritual to be deliberately chosen and meticulously laid out on the walls of her funerary chapel such that the texts, which were inscribed in retrograde, commence at the doorway of the chapel and culminate on the innermost wall of the corridor surrounding her cella. This interpretation of the layout of OM scenes suggests that the scenes inscribed on opposite walls run parallel to each other and should thus be read concurrently rather than sequentially. While this theory differs from more conventional interpretations of the division of the ritual, it accounts for the scenes’ layout, their retrograde direction of writing, and relates the scenes’ textual content to their physical location on the walls of the chapel. A new system for numbering the various scenes of the Opening of the Mouth arose from this particular analysis of Amenirdis’s texts. The new numbers incorporates the scenes’ physical location on monuments on which they occur.

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