In the Egyptian religion, there is belief in an afterlife. The Egyptians believe that another life continued after one has died. Because their beliefs were true, the time of Ancient Egyptians developed rituals regarding the death and burial of a person. These tasks would prepare the deceased soul to reach the good place and ensure a good afterlife. The afterlife to the Egyptian was a place of bliss, delight, and peace. Death occupied the Egyptians they believed that after death they would pass through the dark and terrifying place called the underworld. Before a person’s soul can rest he or she would prepare as a mortal, be mummified, and take the journey of tests before passing through the underworld into the afterlife.
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The Egyptian believed that before the mortal one is ready to take the journey, he or she would designate a person to manage their death. This designated person would take on the responsibilities of preparing the body and tomb for burial. The person getting ready to take the journey would read from “The Book of The Dead” and there he or she would retrieve their secret name. Not allowed to be talked about was the secret name, until a certain time in the journey and would enable the dead to overcome obstacles and follow the right path of the underworld. It also granted protection and help of the gods. After the secret name is given, then he or she would then prepare their tomb. The tomb is an important process, usually the deceased were mummified and buried in a minimum of two boxes, containing of all necessities that will help the soul in the underworld. These items will surround the body when buried. They can be food, gold, servants, and sometimes pets, anything that would comfort them in the afterlife. Two of the main things, when preparing the tomb are the two holes that made in each of the boxes. These holes represent the “Ka” and “Ba”. The first hole made for the “Ka”, when the body dies; the soul leaves the body through the hole to take the journey to the underworld. After the “Ka” has taken the journey, it reunites with the body as the “ba” through the second hole. The “Ba” was then able to have a free spirit. The spirit was free to leave the tomb and travel about the earth, but obligated to return during the hours of darkness.
When the time comes to lay the person to rest, he or she goes through the process of mummification. Although most mummified inhabitants were mostly royalty and upper classes, becoming mummified for others was not an option they were given a minimum, just enough to preserve the body. The Egyptians would mummify there dead because they believed they were assuring their soul of a successful rebirth into the afterlife they also thought in order for the soul to arrive safely in the afterlife the body of the deceased had to be in fit condition to house the soul. Mummification preserved the body so that the deceased’s soul would recognize it when it returned. The first step to being mummified is the embalmer would remove all the internal organs like the liver, stomach, and lungs because they putrefy and decompose quickly. The internal organs were each individually mummified and placed individually in four Canopic jars usually made of solid wood or stone. The jars varied in size from five to ten inches wide and nine inches tall. The jars had lids that shaped as the head of one of the four sons of Horus, Imesty the human-head god protected the liver, Hapi the baboon-headed god looked after the lungs, Duamutef the jackal-headed god protected the stomach, and Qebehsenuef the falcon-headed god looked after the intestines. The use of these jars was to preserve the internal organs for the rebirth of the deceased in the afterlife and duties of these four jars were each entrusted in protecting a particular organ. Also buried along with the other necessities, next to the body sat the Canopic jars. Removed from the body are all the internal organs except the heart; the Egyptians believed that the heart is where the soul sat and by keeping it attached it would help them in the afterlife in the test of “weighting the heart”. The brain however, was extracted from the head by inserting a long object with a hook at the tip through the nostril and pulling it out through the nose. After the removal the brain was not required to keep therefore, the brain was thrown away. Also removed were external organs like the eyes. After removing all organs, the body was then covered and stuffed with a salt mixture callednatron; this part of the process would dry out the body, and buried with the body are the materials used in process of mummification. After forty days of drying out, with water from the Nile the embalmers wash out all traces of natron, and cover the skin with oils to have a lifelike look. Then the body is stuffed with other materials to keep the body from collapsing. The bare eye sockets are replaced with a material that looked as if the eyes were there. After that, the body was now ready to be wrapped with fine linen consisting of 90 yards, using small strips the embalmer would start with the head and neck. Individually wrapped were the fingers and toes, as well as arms and legs. Between layers of wrapping the embalmers, would place amulets to ensure a safe passage and protect the body through the underworld. During the final preparation, a priest reads the spells of the “Book of the Dead” that fought off evil spirits. As it gets to the end of the wrapping, the last step to do to complete the mummification process is the painting of the face on linen. The Egyptians would paint the face of deceased on the outside of linen, coffin, or tomb this was to ensure that the soul would be able to find and return to its own body.
Following the mummification came the journey of the “Ka” (soul). The soul of the deceased is sent on the journey to seek a good afterlife. Through the journey are terrifying tests leading to the Day of Judgment. Upon arrival to the entrance of the underworld, two gods Osiris and Anubis greet the soul. The ruler of the underworld was Osiris “Lord of Eternity”. Before passing through, Osiris has asked of your secret name and a reason to continue. If the secret name is said, the soul loses and there the soul will roam forever. Anubis will be available to show the soul to next test, if you pass the test of Osiris. Anubis was the jackal-headed god who leads the dead through a mud cave to the Hall of Two Truths. In the Hall of Two Truths, the deceased soul would stand upon Thoth to hear the deeds done in their life. Thoth was an Egyptian god mostly represented by the man with the head on an ibis, holding a scribal palette and reed pen. Then the soul was lead to Osiris who had a number of scales and standing beside the scales is Amemit the female demon, who has a head of a crocodile, body of a hippopotamus, and legs of a lioness. At the scales the deceased’s heart containing the deeds of their lifetime is weighed against the feather, symbol of truth, the deceased only passes the test if the heart is light as a feather. If the heart is heavier than the feather then Amemit is allowed to eat the deceased soul. When the Hall of Two Truths have been completed Anubis leaves the deceased at the river, and Horus the boatman comes. As your passing through the river, there are forms of faces that you have known and each are trying to get you to look at them. If you look into their eyes, you will join them in the underworld. When the deceased arrives on the other side of the river, the deceased has arrived at the good place. Then Horus request of your secret name once you have given the name to him the deceased soul will be ensured a good afterlife. Now the “Ka” returns to the body as the “Ba”.
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As said in the beginning the Egyptian had their religious beliefs. They created great rituals that would support their beliefs through mummification and the journey to the underworld. In time, the Egyptian way may not have lived on but it brought a history to refer to, and in this paper, I have explained to the best of my knowledge about the Ancient Egyptian way of preparing for a good afterlife, with the techniques of mummification and rituals taken part in the underworld.
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