The Pyramid Texts were funerary inscriptions that were written on the walls of the early Ancient Egyptian pyramids at Sakkara. These date back to the fifth and sixth dynasties, approximately the years 2350-2175 B.C.E. However, because of extensive internal evidence, it is believed that they were composed much earlier, circa 3000 B.C.E. The Pyramid Texts are, therefore, essentially the oldest sacred texts known.
Samuel Mercer was the first to produce a complete English translation of this mysterious text, in 1952. This was also the first complete translation in any language. The Mercer translation was followed by the R.O. Faulkner translation in 1969, which is considered the standard today. However, this does not diminish the usefulness of Mercer’s version, particularly because it has fallen into the public domain and is now available freely online here at sacred-texts, the first complete version of the Pyramid Texts on the Interent. PRODUCTION NOTES: The four volume edition from which this was scanned is today very rare and sells for upwards of $800 on the used market. This etext is the complete text of volume one of this set, and includes the complete Mercer translation of the Pyramid Texts. Volumes 2-4 are commentary by Mercer and others. I do not currently plan to scan the remaining volumes.
I believe that this work is in the public domain in the United States. It will not be in the public domain in the UK or EU until 2022. Here are the facts. Mercer, a Canadian by birth, published this work in 1952. It was published simultaneously in the United States and Canada. Samuel Mercer died on January 12, 1969 at the age of 89. By US copyright law at the time, the copyright should have been registered at the US copyright office in 1952 and renewed in 1980. However there is no evidence that this is the case, based on an extensive search of the online US Copyright Office database. The GATT restoral of 1/1/1996 restored copyrights on foreign works which were not registered properly in the US; however, this does not apply to works simultaneously published in the US and abroad.
–John Bruno Hare, June 2, 2004