Beyond the last breathBy: erika Tack

THE FUNERARY PROCESSES OF THE ANCIENT EGYPTIANS WERE VAST AND VERY DETAILED. THEY THOUGHT OF EVERYTHING FROM THE BEGINNING OF THE MUMMIFICATION TO FAR AFTER THE BODY WAS LAID IN THE GRAVE. THE EGYPTIANS BELIEVED THAT ONCE A PERSON, ESPECIALLY A ROYAL, DIED THEY WOULD JOIN THE GODS IN THE AFTERLIFE. THINGS THEY HAD POSSESSED WOULD BE BURIED WITH THEM TO BE ENJOYED BY THE DECEASED. VAST AND AMAZING TOMBS WERE BUILT TO HOUSE THE DEAD AND WERE OFTEN PAINTED IN ORDER TO PROVIDE COMPANY AND PASTIMES FOR THE DEAD. THEY TOOK GREAT LENGTHS TO ENSURE PROPER BURIAL FOR THEIR PEOPLE, ESPECIALLY MEMBERS OF THE ROYAL FAMILY. THIS INCLUDED EMBALMING, MUMMIFICATION, COFFINS AND ELABORATE TOMBS. THE EGYPTIANS TOOK INTO ACCOUNT EVERYTHING WHEN GETTING A BODY READY FOR BURIAL AND INSURING A PROSPEROUS AFTERLIFE. EVEN AFTER A BODY WAS BURIED AND PLACED IN A TOMB, IT WAS CONTINUED TO BE LOOKED OUT FOR AND CARED FOR. PEOPLE WOULD VISIT TOMBS AND HOLD CEREMONIES THAT HONORED THE SPIRIT OF THE DECEASED. EGYPTIANS TOOK GREAT PRIDE IN THE FUNERARY PROCESSES THEY HELD, ESPECIALLY WHEN IT WAS FOR SOMEONE FROM THE ROYAL FAMILY. THE AMOUNT OF ARTISTIC EXPRESSION THAT EGYPTIANS PUT INTO THE BURIAL PROCESS IS ASTONISHING. EVERY PART WAS CARRIED OUT METICULOUSLY AND BEAUTIFULLY. THE CANOPIC CHESTS, WHICH HOUSED THE ORGANS WERE DECORATIVE, THE SARCOPHAGUS WERE INTRICATE, THE TOMBS WERE SPECTACULAR AND EVEN THE MUMMIFICATION PROCESS WAS PRECISE AND SOPHISTICATED. MANY PHARAOHS WOULD BEGIN THEIR WORK ON THEIR TOMBS FAR IN ADVANCE AND PREPARE FOR THE AFTERLIFE EARLY. FOR THE EGYPTIANS, DEATH JOINED YOU TO THE GODS AND THAT WAS THE HIGHEST CALLING. NO MAUSOLEUM OR GRAVE STONE IN THE MODERN WORLD CAN COMPARE TO THE IMMENSE AND AMAZING QUALITIES OF EGYPTIAN TOMB ARCHITECTURE. THE ANCIENT EGYPTIANS TOOK DEATH, BURIAL, AND THE AFTERLIFE VERY SERIOUSLY. THEY VIEWED DEATH AS THE POINT WHERE THEY AWAITED REVIVIFICATION. THE IDEA OF THE AFTERLIFE FOR MANY WAS TERRIFYING. “ALTHOUGH GODS AND GODDESSES DEMANDED MOLLIFICATION AND OBEISANCE WHILE ONE WAS ALIVE, WHEN YOU DIED THE GODS BECAME BENEFICENT PROTECTORS – PROVIDED THE DEAD PASSED THROUGH THE NETHERWORLD’S MANY HURDLES” (MUSEUM). EGYPTIANS TOOK GREAT LENGTHS IN THEIR BURIAL PRACTICES TO INSURE THAT THE DECEASED WOULD HAVE A COMFORTABLE AFTERLIFE, HENCE ALL THE OBJECTS, THE MUMMIFICATION, AND THE VAST TOMBS. INSCRIPTIONS WERE ADDED TO THE DIFFERENT ASPECTS OF THE PROCESS AS A WAY TO WARD OFF THE PREVIOUSLY DEAD AS THE NEWLY DECEASES TRAVELED FROM THE NETHERWORLD TO THE HALL OF JUDGEMENT. IN EGYPTIANS MYTHOLOGY, THE DECEASED TRAVELED ON A SOLAR BAROQUE, WHICH WAS A TYPE OF BOAT FROM THE GOD, RE. INCANTATIONS WERE MADE OVER THE BODY BY A PRIEST IN ORDER TO RESTORE SENSES TO THE DEAD BODY THAT THEY WOULD NEED IN ORDER TO TESTIFY FOR THEMSELVES WHEN THEY CAME FACE TO FACE WITH THE FORTY TWO GODS. IN THE HALL OF JUDGEMENT, THE HEART WAS BALANCED ON A SCALE OF IMMORTALITY. IT IF BALANCED THE SCALE, THEY WERE GRANTED ETERNAL LIFE, BUT IF IT DID NOT, THE HEART AND THE PERSON WERE EATEN BY THE GODS, AMENET AND SETH. THE EGYPTIAN AFTERLIFE WAS VERY DETAILED, THOUGHT OUT, AND FOLLOWED. Works Cited                                                                      "The Egyptian Afterlife." Ancient Egypt: Science and Technology. Museum of Science, 2003. Web. 06 May 2016. <http: / /legacy.mos.org /quest /afterlife.php>.

Stelae were traditional tombstones in Egyptian times that were the basis for modern tombstones today. Stela is derived from the Greek word stele which means, “pillar” or “vertical tablet”. They were generally used as a tombstone or funerary marker and wound be placed at the entrance to or in the walls of a tomb. In the 1st dynasty, stelae were most commonly used to mark king’s tombs. Near the 12th and 13th dynasties, they began to be used as votive or commemorative monument. Stelae would be placed in temples as an act of worship to the gods or to mark the place where offering were meant to be performed. They would sport reliefs - whether carved, sunken, or painted – of gods, animals, decorative elements and even mummies of the owner. They also generally included inscriptions. These inscriptions would be an offering formula, prayer, the genealogy of the deceased, dedication formulas or other texts. Also around this time (12th dynasty), many stelae were originating in Abydos. These stelae were smaller, inserted into the walls, and generally bore the inscription of the owner. This particular stelae, the Stela of Senebef and Ita, originated in Abydos. Abydos was the place where the god of fertility, Osiris, died. This stelae was located inside a cenotaph, or chapel, which was on the route to the tomb of Osiris. The stela was most likely made of limestone and included sunken reliefs and hieroglyph inscriptions. The reliefs include an ankh, which signifies life, a female mummy (thought to be a mother of sorts), and the mummies of Senebef and Ita. The inscriptions depicted funerary practices and the route to Osiris’ tomb. Stelae were very important in the acknowledgement and care of the dead long after they had been buried. They were a significant marker that inspired worship and remembrance of the one that laid there. References Dunn, Jimmy. "The Stelae of Ancient Egypt." The Stelae of Ancient Egypt. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 May 2016. <http://www.touregypt.net/featurestories/stela.htm>. Unknown. Stela of Senebef and Ita. 1850-1750 BC. Limestone. Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien, Vienna.
The coffin or sarcophagus was one of the most important parts of the burial processes for the Egyptians. The coffin was consider the eternal dwelling place for the deceased and their soul. The types of coffins varied, not only by region but also by era. In the early kingdom of ancient Egypt, coffins were modest, miniature homes made of wood. In the Old Kingdom, the coffins became rectangular boxes with lids. These would be painted and inscribed with hieroglyphics. The features could include: the name and title, food offerings, a “false door” through which the ka (appearance of the soul) could pass through, and eye through which the deceased could look outside of the coffin. The eyes were places on the left side of the coffin and the body was laid in on its left side, in order to be able to “see” out of the coffin. By the Middle Kingdom, the coffins became mini tombs for the deceased. They were increasingly decorated with more and more deities, namely the goddesses Isis and Nephythys, which were painted at the head and the foot of the sarcophagus. More inscriptions were also placed on the coffins, including prayers for offering and to the deities. An example of these inscriptions would be, “"Raise yourself upon your right side, lift yourself upon your left side, for Geb will open for you your blind eyes, he will straighten your bent knees, and there will be given to you your heart which you had from your mother, your heart which belongs to your body" (Spell 169 – The Book of the Dead). The Middle Kingdom also saw the introduction of the anthropoid coffin, which was a coffin that outlined the body of the deceased. These included a painted face and a wig. By the New Kingdom, coffins came “ready-made” and only required an inscription. This coffin was made for the daughter of Ptahidis, Taremetchenbastet. Although she was a woman, she was buried in a male style coffin. The inscriptions on the coffin are chapter 172 from The Book of the Dead: the Book of Coming Forth by Day, and of the funeral offering formula. References Coffin of Taremetchenbastet. 664 - 610 BC. Polychrome Wood. Museo Arqueológico Nacional, Madrid. "Egyptian Mummification." Spurlock Museum of World Cultures. Spurlock Museum, n.d. Web. 03 May 2016. <http://www.spurlock.illinois.edu/exhibits/online/mummification/artifacts6.html>.
Egyptian tombs were the most grand and important part of the Egyptian burial process. Funerary complexes were popular when burying members of the royal family. Within the tombs, the most common and important element was the false door. The false door was located in the offering chamber, or central room, and always faced west. Sometimes the false door could also be found on the coffin. This false door was considered a passage between the world of the living and the world of the dead. It was the way, in which the ka (element of the soul) could pass through and interact with the outside world. They were found in tombs as early as the Old Kingdom and were derived from the facades found within Mastaba tombs. The style of the doors changed from era to era and were eventually replaced, for the most part, with stelae in the New Kingdom. The false doors then became exclusive to the temples in this period. Most tombs contained two imitation doors, one for the owner and one for the owner’s wife. These false doors were usually made of limestone and sometimes wood and were painted with red and black paint. It was generally constructed with a sunken rectangular panel and door jambs which made it look like an actual false door. Often they were found with a table in front of them. This table was meant to be used to receive the food offering for the owners. They included hieroglyph inscriptions and reliefs that often depicted the owner of the tomb receiving food offerings. This particular false door was from the tomb of Pth-wash in Sakkara. It displayed inscriptions of the deceased and his desired food offerings. False doors in Egyptian tombs were thought of as the gateways in the underworld and were very important in the Egyptian burial process. References Hill, Bryan. "False Doors: The Gateways to the Egyptian Underworld." Ancient Origins. N.p., 21 June 2015. Web. 04 May 2016. <http://www.ancient-origins.net/ancient-places-africa/false-doors-gateways-egyptian-underworld-003214?nopaging=1>. Unknown. False Door from the Tomb of Pth-wash in Sakkara. 2430-2410 BC. Limestone. National Museum of Denmark, Copenhagen.
The mummification process of bodies was an integral part of the Egyptian burial process and considered essential to a proper afterlife. It would provide a place that the persons “ba” or spirit could return to later on. Before mummification became popular, bodies were placed in a pit, in a fetal position, along with belongings. The process was very expensive, so only the wealthy would be able to participate. In the Old Kingdom, only the pharaohs would be mummified. The process began with the removal of the internal organs, which were then dried and place in canopic chests or back inside the body. The heart was not removed because it was believed to be the thing that testified for the deceased in the afterlife. Many times an amulet would be placed over the heart as a means of offering protection. The brain was usually removed, through the nose, using a long bronze stick. The body was then embalmed with salts, resins, oils, myrrh and more as a way to prevent against decay. The most common ingredient in embalming was Natron, which was a salt (similar to baking soda today) that was used to dry out the body. The body was then stuffed with sand, linens, and other things to keep it in a human-like form. The whole body was then wrapped in linens that had been dipped in resins. By the Middle Kingdom, bodies began to be finished with a mask and/or wig. This mummy is of a priest named, Nesperenhub who had died around the age of 40, most likely from a fatal disease of some sort. His whole body was decorated with jewelry before it was wrapped in linens and placed in the coffin. Mummification was a very precise and intricate process that was central to the burial process of Ancient Egyptians. References Mummy of Nesperennub. N.d. Wood, linen, paint. British Museum, Britian.
Canopic chests were very popular in ancient Egyptian tombs. They were often placed in the main room, close to the sarcophagi. They were generally made of limestone, pottery or wood and contained four canopic jars that would also be made of pottery or wood. The Egyptians believed that the body traveled into the afterlife, but the organs (besides the heart) were not needed for that journey. They were kept besides the body because it was believed that the organs would be necessary once the body has reached the afterlife. The organs themselves were mummified separately from the body. This practice began as early as the Old Kingdom and continued through the Ptolemaic Period. After that period, the mummified organs were placed back in the body. The organs were mummified using natron salts and then wrapped in linens. You would still find a canopic chest with jars inside, but it would only be to symbolize the protection it offered. Each of the four organs that were saved were placed in separate jar and were each guarded by their own Egyptian god. The liver was placed in a jar with a lid in the shape of a human head that was meant to be a depiction of the god Imesity. This was in turn guarded by the goddess Isis, the goddess of creation and fertility. The lungs were placed in a jar that was topped with a lid in the shape of the god Hapy, who was conveyed with a baboon’s head. This in turn was guarded by the goddess Nepthys. The stomach was placed in a jar guarded by the god, Duamutef who was in the shape of a jackal’s head. The intestines were placed in a jar that was guarded by the god, Qebensenuef, in the shape of a falcon’s head. This particular canopic chest belonged to the Pharoah Sobekemsaf I and it included a picture of the god, Anubis, who was the protector of the burial grounds and mummification, on the outside of the box. Unknown. Canopic Chest of Pharaoh Sobekemsaf I. 1628 BC. Wood. Rijksmuseum Van Oudheden, Netherlands.
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