Egyptians and Death- Week 4

Death was an important part of Egyptian culture.  They had gods dedicated to it and buildings built to house those that died.  The richest members of society had the grandest tombs, with the Pharaohs building giant pyrimids to show their glory in death. Death was not seen as an ending but as the beginning of a new journey.  Because they had this view, Egyptian dead were buried with everything that was though to be needed in the next life.  Grave goods included pots of food and wine, jewelry, and even servants and animals (including lions) to accompany the departed into the underworld. Based on what was buried with the person scholars can tell who they were and how important they were in life. The rulers and elites are buried with riches and sometimes even servants, while the poorer citizens (although they were still rich enough to afford a formal burial) were buried with simpler goods such as decorated pots and ceramics. Both kinds of graves provide a look into these peoples lives. 

It is lucky for us that they were so interested in preserving their dead and the grave goods that were buried with them because it provided scholars with much of the information needed to piece together the lives that ancient Egyptians lived. Paintings and incriptions on tomb walls allow archeologists a way to look at written record of ancient Egypt that have stood the test of time. Studying the objects inside the graves can tell scholars what kind of food the people ate to who the patron god of the region is. Because the Egyptians took such care to preserve thier dead, archeologists are able to find relics that are in incredible condition to study. The tombs protected objects from decay, grave robbers, and destruction, preserving them for archeologists to discover now and in the future and giving us clues to the lives of the great people that lived and died in different regions of Egypt. The tombs also held pieces of great importance to scholars, such as the Narmer palet and the differnet King’s Lists. These were crucial peices in understanding the chronology of the rulers of ancient Egypt.

Death was important to Egyptian religion. There were gods that ruled the underworld as well as gods that helped Egyptians on their journey to the underworld. Dying was considered just another part of the journey, one which your family was responsible to prepare you for. Some places, such as Abydos, were chosen as burial places not for political reasons but because of ideological reasons.  Abydos was one of the most important late Predynastic centers in Upper Egypt.  The cemetery Umm el-Qa’ab is where many first Dynasty kings constructed their tombs.  Abydos was thought to be an entrance to the underworld.  Pictures on the tombs depict the Hall of Judgment in the underworld and Abydos was considered an entry point into the Hall.  Because of this is was thought that to be buried in this location would help ease the transition to the afterlife for that person.