I know I’ve blogged on the afterlife once already, but the reading for this week triggered many more thoughts to write about. I guess one of the things I never realized was how much afterlife beliefs and practices varied. I suppose it makes sense; humans are the same way today. For example, our beliefs on religion, even for those who belong to the same church, differ even if in the smallest ways. I guess this is just one more kick I’ll have to give myself for automatically assuming things about a culture.
Anyway, going back to what I was saying: I find it interesting that their beliefs varied. Some saw death as a “threatening enemy,” while others viewed it as a “welcome homecoming.” I always assumed their society as a whole welcomed the passing on to a new phase of being, but just like today, some were more comfortable with the idea of death, while others seemed to fear it. I also found it interesting that there were different methods of providing sustenance to the dead. Some of the dead were provided offerings by means of a cult who visited regularly and replenished, while other buried Egyptians were given sustenance through “magical” models and images. I wonder if this difference had to do with social status? Or perhaps it had to do with the region they were buried? The chapter doesn’t seem to answer the question and it left me wondering why the difference.
There were also variations between the burial practices, but as the chapter states, this was due to the differences in social class. The elite obviously had more resources to work with, therefore their dead were buried with grander items and material, while the non-elite had a “miniaturized version of the grand sepulcher of a high official.” Like I said, however, there are many other areas of the afterlife that had varying beliefs about them, and it is fascinating to me to read about this subject, and understand the differences between our views today and their views years ago, not to mention their own views that differed from one another.