Mortuary Practices

Growing up in a Christian faith church it was always mentioned that you can’t bring material things to heaven with you. One song from my faith is entitled “Have you ever seen a U-Haul behind a hearse”? The Egyptian people religion however preached otherwise. The mortuary practices of the Egyptian people caught my attention in this week lecture. Similar to practices today the patterns and structure of your tomb reflects your social status in society. For instance, how today some people can afford the granite headstone that won’t deteriorate easily while others can’t afford one at all. I will focus however on the structure of the royal tombs.  In Egypt the royal burials differed from the subsidiary graves and all other Egyptians graves. From the map first I observed that the royal tombs were in the center. When I saw that I immediately drew back to previous lectures highlighting how important, how much power, and control over others that these rulers had in their society. In The subsidiary graves held queens, those second in command and palace retainers. Also in the graves were pots and carved stone vessels. All these things tie into the main reason for the structure of these graves. The religious belief of the Egyptians is the reason for these specific mortuary practices. They believed that these placed burials set them up for easy transition to the underworld. The underworld here is considered, the afterlife. That is why they took their pots and vessels, to maintain their status. The palace retainers were “probably people who were sacrificed at the time of the burial to serve the pharaoh in the afterlife.” Religion was also probably used as cohesion. For example how the United States used Religion-Christianity- to support the enslavement of Africans. The burials connection to Religion made sense ideologically.


2 thoughts on “Mortuary Practices

  1. Although I am not Christian by practice, I have been raised by those who are and I agree with your statement about leaving behind all worldly possessions. I do find the role of the Pharaoh to be quite intriguing due to the political clout that he carries. I would argue that religion was warped through the ages in ancient Egypt to give power to the Pharaoh in the afterlife. You can see evidence today in how religion impacts our political and economic decisions, although not directly, and it is quite amazing to see the results. I see the same phenomenon occurring in ancient Egypt. How is it that someone who has all of the power in ancient Egypt be so eager to lose it all in the afterlife? I do not see this being a plausible outcome for a Pharaoh and maybe it is because I see that greed and power corrupts many men both then and now. I mean, look at how their burial practices were like you have mentioned. They would bury government in tact (i.e. the queens, viziers, servants). As I mentioned in my post, this would have to mean something to the ruling Pharaoh. My belief is that they saw themselves ruling in the afterlife. The details on this would be sketchy, such as what about previous rulers. Who knows though, maybe there is a life beyond the afterlife.

  2. I really enjoyed reading your summary of the readings assigned regarding mortuary practices in ancient Egypt because you did such a great job of summarizing it and made it really interesting to read! I went to Catholic school growing up (K-12) so I think it’s fascinating to learn about religion practiced in other cultures. The stratification of societies in ancient Egypt is also something I find interesting and am planning to discuss the development of social complexity in the Naqada culture for my research paper, so I especially enjoyed reading your discussion because it mentioned how social status relates to mortuary practices.

    Learning about social stratification through mortuary practices is one aspect of archeology I find to be especially interesting because you can learn so much about these ancient societies simply through their class systems. As you discussed in your summary, archaeologists can see how important the pharaohs in this society were because of their extravagant and honorable burials compared to the burials of people of other social statuses. I also thought that the fact that the people of elite status were buried close to the pharaoh was fascinating because, as discussed in another member’s post, it reflects a “tight family control of the state”. Great job on your summary!

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