Remains Of Egyptian Kings And Myth

1242 words - 5 pages

“Divine of Body: The Remains of Egyptian Kings” was written by Robert Morkot, a lecturer in Archeology at the University of Exeter, and was published in Past and Present in 2010. In this article, Morkot argues that the Egyptian practice of mummification was not related to the western principle of relic-collection and that the remains of rulers weren't worshiped or put on display. Instead, the Egyptian obsession with the preservation of bodies was linked to their view of a complete body being essential as a place for the soul to reside after death. Current mummies are a controversial issue due to how, or if, they should be displayed to the public because the Egyptian Kings wouldn't have wanted to be put on display. The way in which they are displayed is more in line with the western view of relics than the religious significance with which the Egyptians intended them to be. The lack of this “relic view” of the mummified remains in Egypt is due to their “completeness view,” closely associated with religious practices of the time. Each person was made up of different elements, each having a different purpose, and together making up the essence of that person. Upon preservation, the body became a vessel for the soul, divine (after the incense rite) and non. The body was placed in a tomb, which became the place of rituals for awhile after death. These tombs were robbed many times over the years, but the primary motivation appears to have been the acquisition of valuables and not on the collection of relics. In many cases, after robbery, the mummified bodies would be re-wrapped and preserved along with all the rituals that went with it, showing how important it was that the body remain complete after death.
In his analysis of Egyptian rituals and customs, Morkot expresses his view that the Egyptian methods of displaying bodies were different than the western ideal. The preservation of an individual was not an attempt to have a physical part of that person around as a relic, but instead was used for the individual's soul to move to and from after death (40). The first mummy was said to have been Osiris, created by Anubis (Egyptian 116). In this tradition, people would be mummified after death. Once this threshold had been crossed, a person's spirit or ba could be manifested in many places at once. After judgment, which could be cheated with magic, a person's ba could travel with Ra or rest with Osiris in the underworld (Egyptian 119). There were many different dangers to the dead and having a complete body with which to return to for rest was very important for the Egyptians. Human remains were not the objects of reverence and worship as Christian saints are these days.
After covering the differences between western society and Egyptian preservation of the body, Morkot argues that ancient Egyptian myth influenced the reasoning behind these actions. Each Egyptian was made up of the ka (guardian angel of sorts), ba (spirit released after death), akh...

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