Thursday, March 22, 2012

ancient egypt

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Introduction


The Ancient Egyptians were not obsessed with death but death was merely a sub-heading of the overall theme of religion with which they were obsessed. Death was just considered a transition period between the mortal and heavenly lives.


Religion


Religion was such a important part of the Egyptian civilization that it became their lives. The Egyptians lived and breathed religion and lived a life of worship. The Ancient Egyptians believed that their life on Earth was a test that would determine their entry into Heaven.


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They dedicated their entire lives to worship and being a good person so that at the weighing of the heart ceremony their hearts would be pure and they could obtain eternal life in paradise. “For the Ancient Egyptians Heaven was Egypt and Hell was everything else.” (Hidden history of Egypt and Rome, Documentary, Discovery channel) They believed that man was born mortal and like a seed he must grow, if he grows well his reward is eternal life.


“The entire civilization of Egypt was based on religion and their beliefs were important to them. Their belief in the rebirth became the driving force behind their lives and practises” (http//www.sptimes.com/Egypt/EgyptCredit.4..html)


Pyramids


The Pyramids where made to be housing for the dead in the afterlife, so they stocked them with all sorts of things that they thought they would need in the next life. Also the actual design of the pyramid was an architectural marvel and the fact that they could withstand the desert conditions for centuries has left Egyptologists still wondering.


Some historians believe that the step pyramid shape symbolically represented a staircase to the heavens which the soul of the deceased person could climb and live forever. Another theory is that “the pyramid represented the rays of the sun.” (http//www.ancientegypt.co.uk/pyramids/about/shape.html) This could possibly have been a tribute from the deceased towards the sun god Re. All theories show us that the architecture of the pyramids was based in someway upon the Ancient Egyptian belief system.


Funerary Practises


“The Ancient Egyptians believed that when someone died, their soul left their body. The soul would then return and be reunited with the body after it was buried. However the soul needed to be able to find and recognise the body in order to live forever.” (http//www.ancientegypt.co.uk/mummies/about/why.html) This is why it became so important for them to keep the body in tact and as life like as possible after death.


Before the body was ready to be buried it was put through the embalming process this is why Egyptian mummies are so well preserved. Firstly the brain is extracted through the nostrils with an iron hook, anything leftover is later washed out with drugs. After this is done a incision is made in the flank (side) of the body and the entire contents of the abdomen are removed. “This cavity is then thoroughly cleansed and washed out, first with palm wine and again with an infusion of pounded spices, after which it is filled with pure bruised myrrh, cassia and every other aromatic substance with the exception of frankincense, and sewn up again. After this the body is placed in natrum and covered entirely over for seventy days. When this period is over the body is washed and then wrapped in linen cut into strips and smeared on the underside with gum” (p.151, CHRONICLES, C.M. Williams) and placed into a sarcophagus ready for burial. It is believed that when the body is rested and the tomb sealed it can then ascend into the afterlife.


Journey To The Afterlife


“The ancient Egyptians believed that in order to get to the afterlife, the soul must pass through a place with terrible perils.” (http//www.ancientegypt.co.uk/cs/Egypt death/) To make sure the soul got through safely defensive spells were put in the tomb beside the coffin. If successful the soul would then be tested in the hall of two truths by the weighing of the heart ceremony, if the heart weighed the same as the feather of truth the three gods present (Osiris, Anubis and Thoth) would decide if the soul could enter eternal life. If the heart failed it was eaten by a part crocodile, part hippopotamus, part lion monster called the devourer and the person was gone forever.


Conclusion


So in conclusion the evidence clearly shows that it was religion overall that was the preoccupation and not death, but death was merely a theme of there preoccupation.


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