Ancient Egyptian Tombs: The Culture of Life and Death

Ancient Egyptian Tombs: The Culture of Life and Death

Ancient Egyptian Tombs: The Culture of Life and Death

Ancient Egyptian Tombs: The Culture of Life and Death

Synopsis

This book explores the development of tombs as a cultural phenomenon in ancient Egypt and examines what tombs reveal about ancient Egyptian culture and Egyptians' belief in the afterlife.
  • Investigates the roles of tombs in the development of funerary practices
  • Draws on a range of data, including architecture, artifacts and texts
  • Discusses tombs within the context of everyday life in Ancient Egypt
  • Stresses the importance of the tomb as an eternal expression of the self

Excerpt

The death of a human being presents other human beings with a set of problems.

The first is the practical matter of the necessary disposal of the dead body. Despite imaginative solutions, such as ‘sky burial’, most humans, in most parts of the world, at most points in human history, have dealt with this issue in one of two ways: dig a hole and bury the body, or burn it until it becomes a more manageable collection of inert ashes and burnt bone (which themselves require disposal, albeit of a much less pressing and inconvenient kind than the body itself). For the ancient Egyptians, burial was the preferred option, although with added complications brought about by the particular ways in which the dead body was regarded as an active vehicle for the animated Dead. However, despite the ‘active’ nature of the dead body, access by the Living to the bodies of the Dead was strictly limited, and the burial chambers of the rich and the graves of the poor were normally very much off-limits.

The second problem is what to do about the property of the Dead. On the one hand, sometimes quite literally, are the items of personal jewellery which might be retained by the Living as a personal keepsake of the Dead, or which may be buried with the Dead, perhaps as a token of a personal relationship, such as a wedding ring. Such tokens are a rare exception to the general rule which applies to burials in the Jewish–Christian–Muslim tradition, and in the secular West, which is that of a minimal or . . .

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