I must admit, one of the major reasons I became interested in ancient Egypt is my fascination with their ideals on the afterlife. They believed that after death, they would travel to the “Two Fields”, a heavenly place with a river much like the Nile. In order to make this journey, the Egyptians believed that you must keep your heart light. To do this, you must spend your entire time in the physical world doing good deeds. Not only did you have to have a place on the boat to the afterlife; another requirement was that your name had to be written down somewhere. Then there was one more requirement: there must be a preserved body. This is where the practice of mummification came from — a key to the afterlife. This is one reason that grave robbing was considered such a horrible crime, and still is considered one today. If a grave robber was to come in and steal someone’s wealth or body, that person looses their key to a blissful afterlife.
Scholars in the fields of Ancient Egyptian Archaeology and Egyptology are excited by the discoveries that come with a mummified body. Not only can you read the story of their lives written on the walls, but you can actually see that person’s physical body: hair, teeth, arms, face, etc. It is astonishing the amount of information that can be gathered from a mummified body. This could include their eating habits, environment of that time, diseases that were prominent, even religious practices (with physical repercussions).
There is a lot of talk that the Egyptians were fascinated with death, but as an interview with Salima Ikram confirms, the Egyptians were in fact “fascinated with life”! The ancient Egyptians did not life very long lives on earth, so they were determined to have a long and prospering afterlife.