Rationale of Burial

In “Changes in the Afterlife,” Taylor (2010) provides an excellent analysis of the changes seen in mortuary traditions of the Third Intermediate Period, especially concerning the ideological significance of a reduced distance between the pharaoh and other elites and between the realm of the dead and the living. But he overlooks two possible stimuli for some of the mortuary changes seen. Taylor notes the presence of sepulchral administrators, but de-emphasizes a key connection between these administrators’ roles in repurposing tombs and changes in corpse treatment and grave goods. He may also overlook the significance of a weak, decentralized state on the royal mortuary tradition.

Logistics

A number of changes are noted regarding treatment of the body and associated grave goods (and, I would say, associated structures): 1) viscera were less likely to be placed in canopic jars, resting inside the body or inside the wrappings instead; 2) a proxy statue was not placed in the tomb – the paint that would have adorned this stature is instead applied directly to the body; 3) pyramid texts or inscriptions which had previously been carved on the tomb walls are found on the sarcophagus; and 4) amulets replaced other (bulkier) daily-life and nourishing grave goods. All of these suggest a concentration of focus on the body and its trappings, likely related to the movement of bodies. Taylor suggests that these changes represent “a change in the significance attached to funerary provision, rather than a simple response to economic pressure” (2010, p. 237).

I would suggest that the significance of each of these elements is not necessarily greatly changed, but its the way each is effected is altered. This may be due to Egyptians’ awareness of how common it was to move bodies or remove them from their tombs. The logistics of keeping the dead (and their space-occupying tombs) that had piled up over the Old, Middle, and New Kingdoms became overwhelming, and Taylor notes the employment of officials who oversaw reuse of tombs. If the living were aware of this practice (as they surely were), it would make sense to prepare against such an eventuality in one’s own afterlife. Per the ideology of ancient Egypt, centralizing all of the most essential ritual parts on the body could counter the potential damage done by removing a body from its tomb long after burial.

Weak State

Taylor refutes a simple economic explanation for the simplification of mortuary treatment during the Libyan dynasties.  The circumstances of elite burial, as Taylor points out, are exceptional, and should not be used to represent the entire culture (2010, p.223). Commoner burials change little during the Third Intermediate Period. He posits that Libyan rulers took on the trappings of Egyptian ideology without a deeper understanding of the belief system behind it. However, it is best not to totally discount the influence of economic factors, since Egypt was also functionally fragmented during the 21st and 22nd Dynasties, with Libyan rulers seated at Tanis and religious leaders at Thebes (Bard 2007, p. 274). Therefore, to a certain extent, it is unsurprising to see diminished royal burials. A lack of centralized power and state infrastructure would mean an inability of royals to fund monumental tombs. This was also seen in the First and Second Intermediate periods.

References

Bard KA. 2007. Introduction to the archaeology of ancient Egypt. Malden, MA: Blackwell Pub.

Taylor J. 2010. Changes in the Afterlife. In: Wendrich W, editor. Egyptian Archaeology. Oxford: Blackwell Pub. p 220–240.

Egyptian Religion

One of the most intriguing parts of an ancient culture is their myths, religious figures, and religious practices. Egyptian religious practices is one of the most interesting, aside from Greek mythology. There is an interesting theory modeled Jesus Christ after the Egyptian god Amun Ra.

Jordan Maxwell wrote that the reason “Amen” is said at the end of each prayer is because the Vatican church wanted to pay tribute to this kings of the gods. Supposedly the Bible and Jesus are just a fictitious fabrication actually describing the life of Ra. He is he king of the gods and is often equated to Zues within Greek mythology.

Just like Christians have the Bible as their official text, the Egyptians had what was known as the Book of the Dead. It contained the major beliefs and ideas of the ancient Egyptian religion.

This is an image of another important Egyptian religious entity known as Anubis. He is jackal-headed and is associated with mummification and the afterlife. When I saw this image I was intrigued because in his left hand he holds and ankh which was a popular Egyptian symbol and talisman meaning life. I always thought that it meant physical life but I now realize that it represents future life or life after death. It makes sense because the afterlife was a very big concern to Egyptians. It was almost more important than their actual lives. They tried to live their lives in such a way to would reflect positively on their physical death.

It was believed that each person had 3 souls: the “ka,” the “ba,” and the “akh.” Death was only a transitional stage that lead Egyptians to a better, more perfect life. This is why so much time and wealth was spent on preparing for the next world.

Quick Fun Fact: Egyptians worshiped (collectively) as many as 2000 gods and goddesses.

http://www.krschannel.com/Amun_Ra.html

http://www.holoweb.net/~liam/pictures/ankh/ankh.html

http://www2.sptimes.com/Egypt/EgyptCredit.4.3.html