Burial Practices Of Ancient Egypt Essay

1639 words - 7 pages

The funerary rituals introduced by the Egyptians were the most intricate, spiritual rites in their times and, perhaps, even to this day. Their elaborate customs, tombs, and gifts to the dead were representative of their pious, devoted nature. Albeit not all were as imposing as the oldest and still remaining Seven Wonder of the World, the Pyramids of Giza, all were meaningful and sacred. The Egyptians, highly reverent of their dead, adopted ornate, religious burial practices to fit to every member of their society.
The grandeur with which Egyptians regarded their funerary customs does not come without explanation. They delighted in tying the occurrences of the natural world with supernatural dogma, and their burial practices exemplified this deluge of religion. A special deity was even attributed to cemeteries and embalmers: Anubis (Fiero, 46). Due to this deep sense of religion, a fixation with the afterlife developed within their culture. The Egyptian afterlife, however, is not synonymous of heave, but, rather, of The Field of Reeds, a continuation of one’s life in Egypt meant “to secure and perpetuate in the afterlife the ‘good life’ enjoyed on earth” (Mark 1; “Life in Ancient Egypt” 1). The pursuit of this sacred rest-place prompted the arousal of intricate Egyptian funeral rituals.
Funerary Customs
Perhaps the most notorious of burial practices originating in Egypt is that of mummification. Why such an extraordinary attempt was made to preserve cadavers may seem
illogical to some, the reasons for embalming the dead made perfect sense to the Egyptians. Mummification kept corpses in a desiccate, pristine condition; the body must be suitable for the owner’s spirit to return for a rendezvous, as per Egyptian belief (Evans, 20). The spirit was vital, for Egyptian faith held that it consisted of a triad of select parts: the ka, representative of the person’s spiritual duplication and depicted by upheld arms; the ba, which was the part of a person allowed to leave the body and roam the earth at death; and the akh, a symbol of one’s immortality. The ka, ba, and akh had to be capable of recognizing the physical body to which they belonged every night in order to secure perpetual life for that person (“Life in Ancient Egypt”, 2). Consequently, mummification became extensively used beginning c. 2750 B.C. to ensure the prolongation of Egyptian afterlife and took approximately 70 days to complete (“Life in Ancient Egypt”, 1; Evans, 20). Three types of mummification were practiced, varying in degree by the nobility of the deceased. In brevity, the general process of embalming began with the extraction of the brain by use of hooks inserted via a nostril, followed by the mining of the abdominal cavity, excluding the heart, and a bathing in palm wine (Mark, 2). The removed entrails were then cleaned, dried, and placed either in canopic jars or wrapped in linen and placed back in the body, as was introduced by Dynasty XXI (Evans, 20). Furhtermore, the...

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