10 Afterlife Essentials - What to pack?

Preparing for an eternal trip? Find out what the ancient Egyptians packed in their tombs

By Google Arts & Culture

Model from the tomb of Nebhepetre Mentuhotep II (-2050/-2000)British Museum

Learn about how some royalty or rich individuals packed and prepared for the afterlife in ancient Egypt. If your first thoughts are snacks, you're not far off. This model of a bakery was made to sustain an eternity of bread making, which was a staple food.

Wooden bed frame with bull's legsBritish Museum

1. Food & Furniture

Many everyday items were buried with the rich and important, including chairs, tables, makeup, pottery, games and chariots, the more you can afford, the more you take - all to make the afterlife more comfortable for the ka (soul). 

Ceremonial Implement in the Shape of an Ankh Ceremonial Implement in the Shape of an Ankh (ca. 1400–1390 B.C.)The Metropolitan Museum of Art

2. Amulets

Ancient Egyptian amulets represented different animals, deities, symbols, or objects in a miniature form. They wore them for protection and good luck.

Heart scarabRijksmuseum van Oudheden

3. Scarab amulets

Scarab amulets were placed on the deceased’s heart to provide the power of rebirth. 
The scarab amulet was often inscribed with spells from the Book of the Dead to prevent the heart from telling the truth during the weighing of the heart ceremony.

Shabti box and figures of HenutmehytBritish Museum

4. Shabtis

Shabtis are small funerary figures who accompanied the deceased to the after-life to help with duties or work. It was believed that the afterlife is a mirror of one’s life, so responsibilities wouldn’t be stopping then.

Faience collar necklace (1352-1327 BC) by unknownRoyal Ontario Museum

5. Jewellery

Jewellery was used by ancient Egyptians to show their wealth, look beautiful, and as protective amulets. The wealthiest people had the most jewelry, often of gold.

Canopic jars of NeskhonsBritish Museum

6. Canopic jars

When a body was preserved as a mummy, the internal organs were taken out quickly after death, as they would rot. The liver, lungs, stomach and intestines were placed in four different containers.

Senet board game (18th Dynasty, c. 1500 BC) by Artist unknownNeues Museum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin

7. Entertainment

Entertainment is necessary in every long trip. If the person can afford it, they were often buried with board games such as 'Senet', and musical instruments, such as 'sistrums'.

Model boat of Ukhhotep Model boat of Ukhhotep (ca. 1981–1802 B.C.)The Metropolitan Museum of Art

8. Sun boats

After the mummification, a funeral procession was held starting from the person’s home then crossing the Nile on a boat to the cemetery on the west bank. The funeral was not regarded as a final goodbye, and families regularly visited the tombs of their dead.

Mummy coffin of Peftjauneith by unknownRijksmuseum van Oudheden

9. Mummies

It was believed that the mummified body was the home for the spirit, and it was necessary to preserve it in as life-like a manner as possible to allow for re-birth.

Papyrus from the Book of the Dead of AniBritish Museum

10. Books of the Dead

Books of the dead are a series of texts & prayers that provided instructions for the soul’s laborious journey through the netherworld, overcoming perils and dodging demons so that it could reach eternity.

Credits: Story

Now that you've learned about the essentials, go back to ancient Egypt as a cat mummy, and save the pharaoh's afterlife journey!

Credits: All media
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