Ancient Egyptian Burial Essay

This essay has a total of 1367 words and 7 pages.

Ancient Egyptian Burial

Ancient Egyptian and Greco-Roman
practices of preparing the dead for the next cradle of
humanity are very intriguing. These two cultures differ in a
multitude of ways yet similarities can be noted in the domain
of funerary services. In the realm of Egyptian afterlife, The
Book of the Dead can provide one with vital information
concerning ritual entombment practices and myths of the
afterlife. The additional handouts I received from Timothy
Stoker also proved to be useful in trying uncover vital
information regarding the transition into another life.
Regarding the burial practices of Greece and Rome, parts of
Homer's Odyssey are useful in the analysis of proper
interment methods. One particular method used by the
Egyptians was an intricate process known as mummification.
It was undoubtedly a very involved process spanning
seventy days in some cases. First, all the internal organs
were removed with one exception, the heart. If the body
was not already West of the Nile it was transported across
it, but not before the drying process was initiated. Natron (a
special salt) was extracted from the banks of the Nile and
was placed under the corpse, on the sides, on top, and bags
of the substance were placed inside the body cavity to
facilitate the process of dehydration. After thirty-five days
the ancient embalmers would anoint the body with oil and
wrap it in fine linen. If the deceased was wealthy enough a
priest donning a mask of Anubis would preside over the
ceremonies to ensure proper passage into the next realm.
One of the practices overseen by the priest was the placing
of a special funerary amulet over the heart. This was done in
behest to secure a successful union with Osiris and their kas.
The amulet made sure the heart did not speak out against the
individual at the scale of the goddess of justice and divine
order, Maat. The priest also made use of a "peculiar ritual
instrument, a sort of chisel, with which he literally opened the
mouth of the deceased." This was done to ensure that the
deceased was able to speak during their journeys in Duat.
Another practice used by the Egyptians to aid the departed
soul involved mass human sacrifice. Many times if a
prominent person passed away the family and servants
would willfully ingest poison to continue their servitude in the
next world. The family members and religious figureheads of
the community did just about everything in their power to aid
the deceased in the transition to a new life. The community
made sure the chamber was furnished with "everything
necessary for the comfort and well-being of the occupants."
It was believed that the individual would be able of accessing
these items in the next world. Some of the most important
things that the deceased would need to have at his side were
certain spells and incantations. A conglomeration of reading
material ensured a successful passage; The Pyramid Texts,
The Book of the Dead, and the Coffin Texts all aided the
lost soul in their journey through Duat into the Fields of the
Blessed. "Besides all these spells, charms, and magical tomb
texts, the ancient practice of depositing in the tomb small
wooden figures of servants was employed." These "Ushabi
statuettes" as they are called, were essentially slaves of the
deceased. If the deceased was called to work in the Elysian
fields he would call upon one of the statues to take his place
and perform the task for him. It was not unheard of for an
individual to have a figure for every day of the year to ensure
an afterlife devoid of physical exertion. Just about every thing
the embalmers and burial practitioners did during the process
was done for particular reasons. Many of the funerary
practices of the ancient Greco-Romans were also done with
a specific purpose in mind. Unlike the Egyptian's the
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