Myths and legends are part of every culture. One such legend is the story of King Arthur, the great ruler of British legend, and his queen Guinevere. Similarly, Osiris is a prominent figure in Egyptian mythology and is known as the god of the underworld and death. Much like other religions, the myths of Osiris are intricate and multifaceted. He symbolizes immortality, is said to judge the dead based on their morality, and is seen as a god of renewal and resurrection. Depending on the cult, he has a variety of other duties.
Despite his reputation, Osiris was widely appreciated as a powerful God. In 2015, archaeologists revealed that they have found an ancient tomb that appears to be directly modeled according to the mythical Tomb of Osiris. The discovery was made by a Spanish-Italian archaeological team in collaboration with the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities.
Egyptian lore recounts the existence of this tomb in Sheikh Abd el-Qurna’s necropolis, a part of Deir el-Bahari’s Northern Monastery in Thebes’ West Bank. The tomb was initially uncovered back in 1887 by Philippe Virey. And in the 20th century there were some cursory efforts to map the main structure; however, Tomb Kampp-327, which you can see marked in red below, was never outlined.
The newly discovered Osiris complex incorporates a passage that links to various chambers that contain intriguing relics. One room has a wall relief that features a series of demons holding knives, which were used to safeguard the remains of the deceased.
Another chamber (the central vaulted chapel) has an emerald-skinned deity sitting and facing a staircase with a 29.5-foot (9-meter) shaft in it. The shaft connects to another room with a second shaft that goes down for 19.6 feet (6 meters) into two rooms. The setup is almost like a labyrinth.
Although the exact period in which this tomb complex was built is uncertain, experts compare it to similar tombs that contain Osirian elements and suggest it could have been created either during the 25th dynasty (760-656 BC) or the 26th dynasty (672-525 BC). The most famous example is the tomb of Orisis, called the Osireon, built into Seti I’s own funeral complex.
In art, Osiris is depicted with emerald-green skin, a pharaoh’s beard, a crown adorned by two resplendent ostrich feathers, and his legs bound like a mummy. He commonly holds a crook and flail – two symbols of kingship and the land.
The Legend of Osiris was played out yearly by the ancient Egyptians in a dramatic form, in which his death and resurrection were retold. It is believed that he perished in the Nile, and in some versions, was cut into 14 pieces by his brother Set, the god of storms, chaos, aggression, and foreigners. Isis, the patron of nature and magic, arranged the pieces back together in a span of 12 days, except his phallus, which was lost.
Osiris’s body was transported to his tomb by boat while Isis fashioned a replacement phallus made from gold. Imbued with magic, this object brought Osiris back from the dead long enough to impregnate Isis with a child that would become Horus, the falcon-headed deity associated with king and kingship.
According to the Luxor Times Magazine blog, “The symbolism of Osiris is very evident here, since all the elements recalling the mythical Osiris tomb are present.” A big staircase of 3.5 meters long with a 4-meter-high ceiling at the bottom leading to the Netherworld and another one leading directly to the Osiris statue, which is therefore at a higher level and ideally isolated on ‘his island’; the Osiris statue itself; the empty corridor surrounding it which symbolizes the channel of water; the expected burial chamber below the statue, thus identifying the deceased with Osiris.