The death in ancient Egypt had a great attention by the ancient Egyptians; as they thought about the resurrection and afterlife.
The ancient Egyptian civilization was the first one to pay attention to the death, what would happen in the afterlife, the voyage of the dead after her death, and the trial of dead people.
The ancient Egyptians have explained all of these items on their temples and tombs and depicted them in scenes and inscriptions.
In many cases, we have found compatibility between what the ancient Egyptians have said about the death in ancient Egypt and what was mentioned in the Abrahamic religions.
On the other side, the religion in ancient Egypt played the key role in this civilization since the age of uniting the two lands and formation of the ancient Egyptian dynasties.
The ancient Egyptian was afraid of the afterlife and keen to it more than his earthly life and we have found many religious texts and scenes referred to the paradise and hell.
Such texts and scenes have proved to the world that the ancient Egyptian realized that the earthly life was merely a short voyage and the afterlife was the real and eternal life, so he worked hard to go to paradise.
Therefore, we have found that thinking about the death in ancient Egypt has been summarized in two main points, which are:
- The doctrine of the afterlife; which was represented in resurrection and eternity.
- Belief in reward and punishment.
The ancient Egyptian has believed that the human soul is the secret of life. He also believed that the soul consisted of five parts; Rn, Ba, Ka, Iaab, and Shyout.
The human body in ancient Egypt was known as Khat and the soul was the most important part of the human body.
If the soul has left the human body and ascended to the sky; that means the human has moved to the otherworld and left our earthly life completely; this was the most important concept about death in ancient Egypt.
A scientific disagreement has been arising between the scholars concerning if the soul was the Ba or Ka. Some scholars said that the Ka was the human’s companion and Ba was the soul.
Most scholars thought that there is no difference between the two items; as they would leave the human body after the death according to the ancient Egyptian’s beliefs.
Therefore, the ritual of opening the mouth of the dead person was considered as one of the most important rituals of the death in ancient Egypt.
The purpose of this ritual was not enabling the dead to say the truth as many people think, but to enable him from regaining his physical abilities after death to make the Ba and Ka unite again in the afterlife.
So, we can say that the ancient Egyptian was the first person who defined the death as the leaving of the soul from the body and moving to the afterlife.
According to the ancient Egyptian beliefs, the Ba was a part of the human body, which made him distinguished from the other people; as each person had his own Ba.
In the Old Kingdom, the pyramid was called, sometimes, the Ba of its owner. According to the beliefs of death in ancient Egypt, it was thought that the Ba was living after the death of its person and it was depicted as a bird with a human head, which comes out from the tomb to join with Ka in the afterlife.
In the coffin texts of the Middle Kingdom, the scholars have found a scene depicts the Ba, which appeared after the death. It was thought that the Ba was physical; eating and drinking exactly like its person in the earthly life.
Hence, the ancient Egyptian has offered the offerings, which consisted of different foods and drinks to help the dead during his voyage to the afterlife.
According to the beliefs of death in ancient Egypt, the Ka differentiated between the life and death or living person and dead; as after the death, the Ka was leaving the body.
The ancient Egyptian thought that goddess Heket or Meskhnt has created the Ka of each person and put it inside him since the time of birth as a part of his soul.
The ancient Egyptians thought that the Ka would be found in the person’s body as long as he ate and drank, so the foods and drinks were presented to the dead as offerings.
In most cases, the Ka represented the second image of the king, so the word Ka was translated into double or companion.
There is no accurate definition about the Akh in ancient Egypt, but it is translated as “the magical effect”.
According to the beliefs of death in ancient Egypt, the Akh has played an important role in the afterlife, but the concept of the Akh is still obscure.
The belief of after death in ancient Egypt
It is the belief in resurrection and eternity, which meant that there was an afterlife, in which, the dead would enjoy.
There was no difference between the king and the lowest social class in ancient Egypt; all the people would live in the afterlife.
Therefore, the ancient Egyptian has preserved the corpses, in what is called the mummification. They buried the dead bodies in the desert; as the dryness would preserve them.
The heart of the dead was more important than his body, so the ancient Egyptian mummified the heart to be weighted by the gods in the trial of the people.
Belief in reward and punishment
Among the most important beliefs regarding the death in ancient Egypt was the trial of the soul after the death.
The trial depiction was the standing of the dead person before the court, which constitutes of 42 judges headed by god Osiris. In the trial, the dead said his good and bad deeds during his life.
After that, the dead’s heart was put in one pan of the justice scale and the feather of goddess Maat was put in the other pan.
If the heart was light, that means the dead was good, otherwise, the person would be considered disobedient. There was a predator in the court of the trial called “Emem”; its mission was tearing the bodies of disobedient.
God Anubis was responsible for weighing the heart, while god Thoth (god of wisdom) was responsible for recording the results.