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The Book of the Dead gives life.

Lock-Nah describing the Book's powers., The Mummy Returns

The Black Book of the Dead was an Ancient Egyptian book made of pure obsidian. Known colloquially as "the Black Book”, the Black Book of the Dead contained ancient spells and incantations that could resurrect the dead and can summon the Warriors of the Book (Ghost Warriors). In the late 3000's B.C. King Ramusan protected the Black Book of the Dead in the Treasure Chamber in his palace to keep it safe form anyone taking it. Two thousand years later, to keep it safe from interference from unworthy men, the ancient Egyptians kept the Book inside the Statue of Anubis at Hamunaptra, where it was declared forbidden to use. In the late 3000's the Black Book of the Dead's spells and incantations had been useless, unless the Eye of the Gods Medallion was used while reading it. A couple years later the Black Book of the Dead was fashioned so that only one with a "key" might open it: indeed, the Black Book had a small puzzle-box-like object that, when opened, acted as the key with which to open the Black Book.


Film Series

In the late 3000's, Talus, a ruthless warrior, and brother of Horus, the most powerful god/pharaoh in Egypt, leads a legion of soldiers to the Far East to get the Black Book of the Dead. With the Black Book, Talus would used the Black Book to defeat his brother Horus as well as in the conquering of empires. Talus marched to the palace of King Ramusan, who acted as guardian of the legendary Black Book of the Dead. Talus sent his army to attack Ramusan's palace so that he might take the Black Book of the Dead to raise its Warriors. Ramusan hid the Book in the Treasure Chamber, but Talus found the Black Book: before Talus opens it, Ramusan informed him that the text would be useless without the Eye of Gods Medallion, then Talus takes out the Medallion which he took from Ramusan's daughter, Princess Silda. That night Talus takes the Black Book of the Dead and the Medallion and summons the Warriors of the Book. First warrior that raises is Zulu Kondo, lion spirit from the land of the burning sky. Next warrior that raises is Agromael, noble destroyer. Last warrior that raises is Tsukai, shadow warrior from the land of the rising sun.

The next day Talus orders Zulu Kondo and Tsukai to kill Cobra (Princess Silda) while Agromael protects Talus. When Zulu Kondo and Tsukai arrive to Silda's village, Silda tell Mathayus (The Scorpion King) that Talus has raised the Ghost Warriors, and also tells him if any person reads from the Black Book of the Dead it awakens the Warriors from the underworld, but Mathayus tells Silda that the Book of the Dead has been lost for thousands of years, then Silda tells him that the Black Book has been kept safe in her family for may generations. While Mathayus and Olaf are attacking Zulu Kondo, Silda is attacking Tsukai. Then Mathayus uses Zulu Kondo's weapon to kill him which leaves Tsukai and Agromael the only Ghost Warriors left. After Zulu Kondo's death, Tsukai went back to the palace to inform Talus that Zulo Kondo has been killed. Then Talus tells Tsukai to protect the Black Book. Talus puts the Black Book back at the Treasure Chamber under lock and key, and orders Agromael to protect the outside entrance to the Treasure Chamber. That night Mathayus and Olaf bring Princess Silda and a fake head of Cobra as a gift to Talus. The Next day Talus is preparing a wedding with Silda, but then Mathayus comes and takes the Eye of Gods Medallion and Talus yells for Tsukai to help him. When Tsukai arrives Mathayus takes the Medallion and tells Tsukai to obey him, but then Silda tells him that once the Warriors are ruled by a person, you can't control them unless you recite the incantation to switch their allegiance. Then Talus takes the Medallion and tells Tsukai to finish Mathayus and Silda.

Silda tells Mathayus to chase Talus and get the Medallion back while Silda fights Tsukai, Olaf gets in the Chamber so he can get the Black Book of the Dead, but then Agromael appears and attacks Olaf. Meanwhile Silda fights Tsukai, and Olaf fights Agromael, during their fight Tsukai tells Silda that she is a good fighter and she might think of bringing her to the underworld so she can become a Warrior of the Black Book, but Silda rejects the offer. Then during Olaf and Agromael fight, Olaf gets hurt really bad and drops the Black Book. Outside of the palace Talus gets on a horse and leaves the palace while Mathayus gets on a horse to chase him so he can get the Medallion, he succeeds in getting the Medallion and Mathayus orders his troops to kill Talus but Talus yells that he doesn't need the Medallion because he has become part of the Black Book and says he will come back to life again. Back at the palace Silda and Olaf are still fighting with Tsukai and Agromael and Mathayus and picks up the Black Book off the floor and grabs Ramusan (who was believed to be dead) and tells Ramusan to read the incantation just in time before Tsukai and Agromael are about to kill Silda and Olaf. Then Ramusan without strength to finish the incantation Mathayus takes the Book and the Medallion and finishes reading the incantation and the Ghost Warriors switch their allegiance to Mathayus. After that Ramusan guardian of the legendary Black Book of the Dead dies. Then Mathayus becomes King of Ramusan's kingdom and as Silda as his Queen. After this the Book was put back at the Treasure Chamber where it's safe and sound for the next thousand years.

In 1290 B.C, the treacherous High Priest of Osiris, Imhotep, along with his disciple priests, stole the Black Book of the Dead from its resting place in the Treasure Room and took it to Hamunaptra in order to resurrect his deceased lover Anck-Su-Namun after somehow using an enchantment spell to make the the Black Book of the Dead and its magic spells work, even without the Eye of the Gods Medallion. However, before he could complete the ritual that would bring his lover back, he was captured by the Medjai, who then declared the punishment of being mummified alive unto the High Priest and his disciples. Imhotep himself was condemned to endure the Hom-Dai, the most severe of all ancient curses, so powerful was the curse that it had never before been acted out.

The Black Book of the Dead was returned to its place beneath the Statue of Anubis, along with five canopic jars that contained Anck-su-namun's remains, all placed inside of a wooden chest that carried a curse that condemned whoever dared to open the chest to death. If Imhotep were to arise he would be bound by sacred law to kill the unfortunates who did the deed by draining their organs and fluids: in so doing, Imhotep would be reverted back to his human form, and would have the power of invincibility.

Three thousand years after the Black Book of the Dead was last used, a number of treasure hunters an an Egyptologist found the city of Hamunaptra and had begun to probe around the ruins in the search of treasures. One group of treasure hunters, who had staked out the base of the Statue of Anubis as their dig site, had found the wooden chest that contained the Black Book and the five sacred canopic jars. As three treasure seekers had decided to pry open the chest, their Egyptologist, named Allen Chamberlain, had advised them all not to open the chest, as the chest carried a curse upon it. The chest had been pried open, regardless of any curse placed upon it, and with that the Black Book of the Dead was revealed. Chamberlain stood in reverent awe at the sight of the Black Book, as his three fellow treasure-seekers derided the Black Book as worthless. With the Book in his possession, Chamberlain then had obtained a canopic jar as well, as Henderson, one of the three treasure seekers, accidentally tapped his foot against the chest, revealing a secret compartment in the side where the five canopic jars that contained Anck-su-namun's remains were kept. Each man present took a jar for himself, leaving the fifth canopic jar with the lion head behind, as it was broken. Meanwhile, in the chamber above, another group of treasure seekers had found a mummy that was bound by the Hom-Dai curse.

That night, Dr. Chamberlain tried in vain to pry the Black Book of the Dead open with his hands, and was seen by Evelyn Carnahan, another scholar seeking the treasures of Hamunaptra, who informed the Egyptologist that he needed a key to open the Black Book. Chamberlain mused upon this idea and fell asleep with the Black Book in his grip. Evelyn sneaked into the sleeping Dr. Chamberlain's tent and took the Black Book from his grip, taking care not to awaken the professor, though Rick O'Connell, who had guided Evelyn and her brother, Jonathan Carnahan, to Hamunaptra, had criticized Evelyn's actions as theft. Evelyn, however, stated it was just reading from a book, a harmless action. At that, Evelyn used the key to open the Black Book, which released a long gust of wind from around the campsite of the treasure hunters, and proceeded to read the text inside. Evelyn did not know it at the time, but the incantations that she was reading were causing the mummy that she, Rick and Jonathan had previously found to return to life.

The mummy awoke roaring in the chambers below, and Dr. Chamberlain awoke as well, screaming that Evelyn must not read from the Black Book. Over time, the Black Book of the Dead was not found and remained under water in a coffin for many years. The curses that ensued, however, had already begun to take effect, as a great swarm of locusts descended upon the campsite, forcing all those that could run to escape the insects by running into the catacombs, with the exception of several native diggers and Dr. Chamberlain, who remained in the campsite, covered in locusts, clutching the Black Book with his hands and wondering what they had done. Later, when the Medjai returned to the campsite, they took Dr. Chamberlain as a prisoner, the Black Book of the Dead still in his grasp. Ardeth Bay, the leader of the Medjai, informed the expeditionary that they had unleashed an ancient evil creature, and ordered them all to leave the city. Upon being ordered to leave, Dr. Chamberlain held the Book of the Dead tight and did not lose it. Black Two days later, Dr. Chamberlain ran through the streets of Cairo with the Black Book in his grip, along with his canopic jar. Unbeknownst to him, he was being hunted by the mummy that had been brought back to life with the Black Book previously. The mummy, Imhotep, is hunting him so he can get the Black Book, and the canopic jar, and to suck the life out of him, later he found Dr. Chamberlain and proceeded to suck the man dry of his organs and fluids, killing him and taking the Black Book and the canopic jar from Dr. Chamberlain's withered hands, Imhotep took back the Black Book of the Dead and the canopic jar. The Black Book now in Imhotep's possession, Imhotep proceeded to emit a great cloud of flies that swarmed through the streets of Cairo and engulfed the townspeople. As the townspeople frantically swept away the flies, the mummy calmly walked away with another canopic jar and the Black Book of the Dead in town.

The Black Book of the Dead was eventually taken back to Hamunaptra, where Imhotep intended to use it to perform the ritual that would bring his lover back to life. Summoning his mummified priests to kill O'Connell, Jonathan, and Ardeth Bay and to participate in the chanting of verses, Imhotep made his way into the ritual chamber with Evelyn chained to the sacrificial altar. As Imhotep read the verses aloud, his attention was disrupted as Jonathan announced to Evelyn that he had found the Golden Book of Amun-Ra. The Book of the Dead ultimately ended up in the ritual chamber in Hamunaptra as the ruins came crashing down.

Seven years after the Black Book's previous use, a number of cultists had recovered the Black Book of the Dead as well as the Golden Book of Amun-Ra, both of which they kept a close hold on. The Black Book of the Dead was subsequently used in London when the cultists, led by British Museum curator Baltus Hafez, used the Black Book's incantations to resurrect the mummy Imhotep. The cultists believed that by resurrecting the High Priest and having him duel against the legendary Scorpion King, they might be able to claim the rewards of the control of the Scorpion King's army, the Army of Anubis.

The Black Book of the Dead was soon after taken with the cultists on their journey to Karnak, where they stopped for a night so as to set up camp after the son of O'Connell and Evelyn, Alex O'Connell, who had been taken captive by the cultists, had tried to escape them. The Black Book of the Dead was once again used when Imhotep used his powers to entrance the cultist Meela Nais into recalling her past life as Anck-Su-Namun, at which point Anck-Su-Namun had acted out the events of the last night of her life, ending her actions with a stab to her stomach, killing herself. Imhotep used the Black Book of the Dead to call forth Anck-Su-Namun's soul from the Underworld, bringing her back to life.

The Black Book of the Dead was taken by the cultists to Ahm Shere, the next location on their journey, where it was taken by Shafek so as to keep it safe, and the Black Book eventually ended up in the hands of Anck-Su-Namun, who brandished it before a disbelieving Alex O'Connell, after Anck-Su-Namun killed the boy's mother. The Black Book of the Dead was taken by Imhotep into the Pyramid of Ahm Shere, and was given to Anck-Su-Namun, at which point where Alex stole it so as to resurrect his mother.

After the Pyramid had been taken back to the Underworld as a result of the Scorpion King's defeat, the Book of the Dead, which was within the Pyramid, was taken along back to the Underworld.

The Mummy: The Animated Series

In TV Series adaptation of first two films that run on separate continuities, the Black Book had been recovered by Evelyn and placed on display in the British Museum of Antiquities at one point before the series began, where it remained until it had been stolen by Colin Weasler, a rival colleague of Evelyn's, who utilised it to resurrect Imhotep, heading to Hamunaptra to find Imhotep's remains. Weasler first used the Book to knock out a guard that was guarding the ruins' entrance to Hamunaptra before reading the enclosed incantations; Imhotep had been brought back to his regenerated state and kidnapped Alex O'Connell, taking him to the Step Pyramid at Saqqara.

With the Black Book, Imhotep had intended to forcibly extract the Manacle of Osiris, an ancient bracelet with magical powers, from off of Alex's wrist, but O'Connell, Evelyn, Jonathan, and the Medjai chieftain, Ardeth Bay, intervened before Imhotep could harm Alex. The Manacle of Osiris responded to Alex's distress at seeing his father in danger as Imhotep was about to crush him with a statue piece, and summoned the Black Book of the Dead, which Evelyn used to attempt to send Imhotep back to his death. Before she could finish the incantations, however, Colin Weasler knocked her aside and sent the Black Book of the Dead sliding across the floor of the temple, where it fell in a crack in the floor that extended into a deep abyss: the Black Book lost, Evelyn could not finish the incantations to once more kill Imhotep, and he was left in a state between death and life.

The Mummy (2017)

Jenny Halsey takes the Black Book from a shelf during a struggle with one of Jekyll's employed bodyguards and uses it to knock him out. The Black Book then falls to the floor and is left in Jekyll's private library as Jenny and Nick escape from Jekyll's office.


I believe you need a key to open that Book.

Evelyn Carnahan to Dr. Chamberlin on his discovery, The Mummy

The Black Book of the Dead was an ancient volume that was held in such reverence for the ancient Egyptians that to speak of it was blasphemy, and so was kept stowed away from any interference in the necropolis Hamunaptra; the Black Book of the Dead contained the spells and incantations needed to bring the deceased back to life as well as to perform other rituals and summoning the Warriors of the Book (Ghost Warriors), such as the separation of Alex O'Connell and the Manacle of Osiris and the deterioration of the undead.

A heavy tome made of pure obsidian with golden hinges, the Black Book of the Dead could only be opened by the use of a puzzle-box-like object that would fit directly onto an emblem on the cover, in the late 3000's to read from the Black Book you needed the Eye of Gods Medallion and the Black Book of the Dead didn't need the puzzle box to open it. Its counterpart, the Golden Book of Amun-Ra, known as the " Golden Book of the Living", was opened using the same puzzle box and contained the reverse incantations to the Black Book of the Dead.

Behind the Scenes

  • The real-life Book of the Dead is not a single artifact, but a funerary text which had countless copies in tombs across Egypt. The text was originally titled the "Book of Coming Forth By Day" or "Book of Emerging Forth into Light" and contained narratives and spells that the deceased would need to successfully navigate the underworld and pass the judgement of Osiris. Since codices (bound books with individual sheets of paper for pages) had not yet been invented, the Black Book of the Dead was written on papyrus scrolls or carved or painted onto the walls of tombs.
  • A book made of obsidian is practically impossible in real life, as obsidian is extremely sharp but very fragile, especially in thin pieces. Of course, magic could have been used to shore up the book, in-universe.