What intrigued me the most, this week, are the religious practices surrounding Abydos. The mythology story is very fascinating – the entry to the underworld, the home of Osiris, the weighing of the heart – all fascinating things. I decided to look more into it. In my findings, I learned that there is an annual festival procession in the name of Osiris, beginning at the god’s temple, ending at the royal tombs of Umm el-Qa’ab. It has been said that the ‘god’ temple is actually the tomb of one of the first pharaoh’s, Djer, whom we talked about in class. This procession is actually depicted in many funeral art.
Not only is this ceremony/pilgrimage depicted in funerary art, but it is reflected in the surrounding area. Along the outlying areas of the ancient city that held the temple of Osiris, there is evidence of mud-bricked chapels. These chapels were built for individuals who were not able to physically take part in the ritual, but could be parts of it from a distance – watching the procession pass through as they made their way to the royal tombs. The purpose of the chapels gives insight into the society at the time because it seems that those who watched from the chapels were of lower statuses than those actually allowed to view the procession up close. Apparently, what happened during these rituals was that priests carried the statue of Osiris to the final destination at Umm el-Qa’ab, and consisted of two parts. The first part was public, which I assume was what these chapel people witness, and the second was a private and secret section, taking place in the desert, performing the divine rites. Religiously, people took part in this festival to pray to be a part of it in the afterlife. In religious texts, most people desire to witness the event in order to benefit from it somehow spiritually.