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They are not being killed but when they die then they are being put into these tombs all ready made and laid out in streets. So you could have probably walked along these streets during your life knowing that eventually you were going to finish up lying beneath the ground under one of these structures.

And the tomb is often called the horizon of eternity. Again this very important horizon concept.

The western horizon is the place where the gods welcome you into new life. And the image at the bottom there shows a little tomb with a pyramid on top on the western slopes of the mountains. And looking out from those mountains you see the cow head of the goddess Hathor who protects the dead.

So once the ordinary Egyptian had passed below the earth after the sunset, they enter the kingdom of another very important god Osiris. Osiris in many ways is the archetype of the concept of triumphing over death. According to mythology he was a king of Egypt in the distant past, who was murdered by his jealous brother, but he was restored to life again.

His body was mummified, wrapped up in linen bandages and by means of rituals he was reanimated and then he became the king of the realm of the dead. So he is normally shown like this in mummy bandages. His skin is often coloured green, because green for the Egyptians symbolized fertility and new life [ Images of Osiris ]. And the idea of all Egyptians was that they would hope to become like Osiris after death to share his resurrection. On the far side you see a painted tablet where the dead woman, the owner of the object, is worshiping Osiris, this figure, and the sun is still shown very prominently here.

The sun god is giving life to people during the day in the sky and Osiris under the earth in his realm brings life to the dead. So they are really opposites and counterparts. Osiris also is connected with the idea of kingship passing from one generation to the next. And Horus becomes the legitimate king after Osiris is killed. So this is the kind of an ideal situation that they wanted to keep repeating throughout eternity. So how would an Egyptian hope to make this transition between life and death?

Certain important practices had to be followed to make this possible. And the first thing that had to be done is that the dead body had to undergo special treatment. If possible it must not to be destroyed. The body would just be placed into a pit in the ground, usually in a crouched, hunched up position and it was covered over with sand. Often the natural drying effect of the sand preserved the skin and the hair quite well as you can see from this illustration. So there may be symbolism here about the renewal of life.

And death is frequently referred to as a sleep from which you awake. Interesting, look at this bottom picture from one of the royal tombs in the Valley of the Kings [ Images of Ba illustrations and statuettes ]. But they are waking up from this sleep of death. You can see over here some of them are actually getting up off beds, stretching their limbs, standing up, entering a new life. Even in this very early grave and this dates to about five and a half thousand years ago, there was probably this idea that you would wake up from this sleep of death.

Now as we move on in time we begin to get written evidence that tells us about more complex beliefs. And this is where we discover that a human being is thought to consist of many different aspects. The body was the most important one but there were also spirits; two very significant ones called the Ka and the Ba. Now the Ka was something like the vital force, it was the thing that made you alive. The Ba was a little bit more like the personality.

It was what made you an individual.

Egypt's Lost Queens (Ancient Egypt Documentary) - Timeline

And the Ba very importantly was thought to be able to leave the body. So it could fly away and it is often shown as a bird with a human head. After death the Ba could leave the body and join the realm of the gods but at the end of every day it had to come back into the tomb, into the body to rest. So this really is the key to whole mystery why they put so much effort into preserving dead bodies. And you can see here this is the Ba spirit flying down to the mummy, ready to join it again. It was regarded as a taboo.

So what they normally show you is just the end of the process with the complete mummy lying on its bed and the embalmer god Anubis, with his jackal head, performing rituals to wake up the mummy, to reanimate it [ Images of the final stages of the mummification process ]. And the only exception to this is this rather crude painting from a late coffin about three hundred BC. Where we do seem to actually see the dead bodies, this kind of silhouette here, undergoing embalming procedures, being washed and coated with some kind of fluid.

So this is a very, very rare exception to this reluctance to illustrate what actually happens in the embalming workshop. The diagrams at the top show the main stages [ Images of the mummification process ]. The body first of all was washed and then all the internal organs would be taken out. The brain of course was removed through the nose with a metal hook and they cut into the abdomen to take out all of the organs of the body.

And after this the body was coated in a special salt called natron, which would be left on there for about fourty days. And this salt extracted all the fluid content from the corps, left it completely dry. And this meant that no bacteria could thrive to destroy the skin, the bones, the hair, the muscles. And after that the body would be coated with oils and resins to leave it sweat smelling and wrapped up in layers of linen.

And eventually given trappings such as a gilded mask and various amulets to protect the dead person. The whole process lasted seventy days and it would be expensive to achieve so only the richest people would have this very elaborate procedure. The organs which were taken out of the body, four of them, were deliberately preserved; liver, lung, stomach and intestine.

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They were the ones that they thought would be most essential and they would be also mummified and placed in a set of jars like this, canopic jars [ Image of four canopic jars BC ]. You can see this group in the exhibition. The jars would go into the tomb next to the coffin. And the idea is that you can still use them so the body is being transformed into something rather different.

After the seventy days of embalming comes the funeral, the day of burial [ Image of the papyrus of Ani, c. The widow of the dead man is there lamenting, weeping, casting dust on her head as a sign of mourning, and this would be a great public event. If you were a rich person you wanted people to see your funeral because the number of mourners and all the goods going into the tomb were a status symbol that would show how important you were.

From the papyrus of Anis, c. The chantresses would be singing sons of lamentation. So this is what the Egyptians hoped would happen at the end of their lives. And when they got to the tomb then there would be rituals. And this is a stone tablet in the exhibition [ Image of a stone tablet depicting rituals at the tomb ]. This was just before the mummy was put into the tomb.

It was placed upright and priests and relatives carried out a ritual. Touching the face of the mummy with various implements. And what they are doing is symbolically reanimating the body, giving it back the faculties to see and hear and breathe. And this way the Ba spirit, which I just talked about, comes back and can start its new existence, its new relationship with the body. All Egyptian tombs, even the simple ones, contain two main parts: the burial chamber under ground where the body would rest forever, and a chapel, which would be open.

And these offerings were very similar to what was given to the gods in the temples. So this idea of nourishing the spirit is always there. And so you get images like this painting [ Images of offerings at the tomb, statue ] on the left here, with the son of the dead man and wife bringing food offerings to them. There would be an offering table like that made of stone for you to lay your food and drink on. And the dead people would be represented by a statue like this, which would be actually in the open chapel.

So you stand in front of the statue and you present the offerings. The idea is that the ka spirit, the other one of the two main spirits, can leave the body in the burial chamber and pass into the chapel and enter the statue. So that while you are there, making your offerings to your deceased relatives, they are actually there with you as well in spirit. And this statue in the middle represents the ka of a deceased king. On the top of his head you see these two upraised arms. And rather touchingly the Egyptians believed that they could still communicate with their dead relatives.

When they went to the tomb chapel, or even perhaps in their own homes, they could speak to the dead. One of the ways they did this was through one of these sculptured busts, ancestral busts [ Image of a letter to a dead woman and an ancestral bust ], this one is in the exhibition. And this represents dead ancestors with whom you can communicate. You ask them, will they, in the world of the gods where they are, will they try to sort this out for you? Perhaps get the gods to help you. And sometimes they even wrote letters and left them in front of the statue for the dead person to read.

Damned Mummies

So this drawing at the top is an inscription written inside a food bowl. And this was put on the offering table filled with food. The idea is that the spirit ate the food and then noticed there was a message as well. And the quote at the bottom is one of these messages. Getting into the next world would be quite a hazardous business. Once the relatives had left you in your tomb then you have to make your own journey. Some of that protection is in the form of the trappings of the mummy, like the gold mask over the head or little amulets of stone and precious metal placed on the body [ Images of funerary amulet, scan of Nesperennub and a gold mask ].

In the middle this is the mummy of Nesperennub , which you see in the exhibition. And you see there lots of these little amulets placed on him to give him protection. But you can also take a roll of papyrus with inscriptions on it, The Book of the Dead.

And these are magical spells, which give you power and knowledge and the means to make a safe journey into the afterlife. A lot of them are to do with keeping safe from dangerous creatures like crocodiles, even nasty insects like beetles and cockroaches might eat the body [ Images from The book of the dead ]. And here are some of the demons that you might meet on the journey [ Images from The book of the dead ]. You have to convince all these gods and demons that you really do deserve eternal life. But The Book of the Dead is your guide. But in the hieroglyphic text it tells you exactly what you need to say so this is a pretty useful book to have with you.

The biggest test of all comes when you enter the hall of Osiris in the underworld. And this is where the heart is weighed in a balance. I mentioned that the heart was kept inside the body and the reason was that the Egyptians thought the heart was the location of the mind and the memory. And the way they decided was by weighing your heart on a balance against a feather [ Images of the weighing of the heart after death, a scarab amulet and a monster ].

And the feather actually is the image of maat, that concept of order and justice that we were looking at earlier. This is the heart on this side and what you wanted was a perfect balance.


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So this is the greatest test of all. But the Egyptians were very practical people and they had a way round this as well. If you paid to have an amulet like this in the shape of a scarab beetle, you could have carved on it a special spell, which cheated your way through the judgments.

Basically what this spell says is it tells the heart to keep quiet. What afterlife do you then expect? You can spend your time travelling with the sun god in his boat, or worshipping Osiris in his underworld kingdom. Sekhet lalu in Egyptian. Very interestingly this word lalu , by which they mean reeds, seems to be connected with the Greek word Elysium. If you think of the Elysian Fields of Greek mythology, the paradise, the peaceful land where the dead dwell. The Egyptians actually were the forerunners of that concept.

And their Elysium looked like this.


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  8. With waterways and waving corn, lots of crops to provide you with food to eat and even servants to do the hard work for you. These little statues called shabtis would be your servants to take all the hard labour away from you in the afterlife. So really at the end of the journey what they want, is to come back home.

    Journey to eternal life of Pharaoh

    Which is, I think, quite a poignant way of looking at things. So just to conclude another quotation from that story I mentioned earlier The Tale of Sinuhe. In that story this man Sinuhe is an Egyptian who leaves his native land and he goes to live in Palestine. And Sinuhe replies to the king that he will do that. Thank you. You might have seen this in the papers today or on television. I talked about the Book of the Dead just now. When I came here last Sunday the curators here in the Queensland Museum offered to show me the Egyptian collection here. And I was very keen to have a look at it.

    And we were having a look at some of the display cases, which are just outside the lecture theatre here.

    Horizons of eternity: living and dying in ancient Egypt - Queensland Museum

    And inside there, there were four small pieces of Egyptian papyrus, looking like this [ Images of papyrus fragments from The Book of the Dead, Chief Builder of the temple of Amun, Amenhotep, Queensland Museum collection ]. And I had a look at these and one of them struck me as being very interesting because it had on it part of a name, the name of the owner of this particular papyrus. Also the style of hieroglyphic script looked quite early, it looked like one of the very earliest examples of The Book of the Dead.

    So the next thing was that we went into the conservation lab here and I was shown over a hundred other fragments of this piece of papyrus, which has been in the museum here for about a hundred years. This proved to be extremely interesting because on some of these fragments we have the complete name of the owner of the document together with his title. And in other parts of the papyrus the title gives the temple that he worked in, the temple of Amun. Well basically this means the temple of Karnak, which I was showing you in one of the earlier slides. And actually The Chief Builder Amenhotep is somebody that we know quite well in the world of Egyptology because he is the owner of quite a famous Book of the Dead papyrus, which was found in the eighteen nineties, but split up into different sections, which are in museums all over the world.

    And this particular papyrus of Amenhotep can be recognized because it has a border of stars running along the top and the bottom and on the back it has one line of very large hieroglyphs. So when I saw these I think you can see where this was leading. And we were able to get onto the British Museum website, because I recognised that the papyrus of Amenhotep was one that has been in the British Museum for about a hundred years.

    And here is an image of the end of the papyrus showing Amenhotep and his wife with their son, making offerings to them [ Image of The Book of the Dead, Chief Builder of the temple of Amun, Amenhotep, British Museum collection ]. To cut the story short, briefly, the fragments here in the Queensland Museum come from the same document.

    The end of the papyrus is in London. The beginning is in the Metropolitan Museum in New York. There are a few other pieces in other museums around the world. But until now the whole document could not be reconstructed. And that would be tremendously interesting because this is a very important Book of the Dead papyrus. Amenhotep was basically the man in charge of building temples at Karnak. What is the role of Osiris in the mythical events associated with judgement?

    Assmann explains that in Egyptian myth Osiris as the master of righteousness overlooked the judgement weighing of the heart of the deceased Assmann: If the deceased was judged guiltless the soul of the dead was thought to be subject to one last judgement by Osiris to determine whether they were worthy of eternal life.

    The deceased was called Osiris but this did not mean that he actually became Osiris. What do these tell us about Egyptian ideas of Morality? One of the main concerns of the deceased is that he has not done ill to the gods. Also the other main concerns such as doing ill to people and stealing are related to the gods in reference offerings and stealing from temples.

    The concern of the deceased is that he has not cheated either man or god and is therefore pure. In Egypt the gods were the force of universal order, and evil was a force of disorder. The concerns of the deceased in relation to the gods show morality ideas were based around maintaining order provided by the gods by not doing evil to them or the earth that they influenced Bains: Adams, B. Allen, J. Assmann, J. Baines, J. David, R. Roberts, J.

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    Posted on November 17, Part 2 can be found here. We often hear about the kings and queens of Ancient Egypt but what about the lives of the general populace? How can we learn about them? The daily life of the Ancient Egyptians can be assessed by the wide range of archaeological evidence, philological evidence and art history available to us. Through the use of modern archaeological and chronological dating methods we can gain a better understanding of what daily life entailed in the world of the Ancient Egyptians.

    Evidence of daily life from the early periods is limited, but there is still some available to us. Grave goods provide a wealth of evidence for daily life as the deceased were buried increasingly over time with personal possessions. Excavations of burials at Badari for instance have uncovered a variety of artefacts and adornments that were used in everyday life. For example grave at Badari contained a number of pots that could have been used in the daily life of a household and a cosmetic slate palette. There is also evidence in the form of small figurines and gaming pieces from which we can assess leisure in pre-dynastic daily life.

    Such is found in tombs like tomb M. Everyday items like these help illustrate the refined lifestyle of the upper class. The vast majority of evidence available for daily life in the early periods comes from burials such as those at Helwan , Saqqara and Abydos , evidence of everyday activities for instance, is seen in the form of copper vessels from the tomb of Idi at Abydos.

    From the old kingdom onwards we have increasingly available evidence of the dress and clothing styles in daily life from wall paintings and statuary. Statuary from the new and middle kingdoms allows for the assessment of daily dress, some showing the long kilts wore by men that reached from the chest or hips to their ankles, and wide cloaks.

    These statues also provide us with evidence from which we can assess hairstyles and wigs, showing a range of styles from shoulder length wigs to clean shaven heads. For instance, jewelry found in cemeteries , and at Badari, including necklaces and earrings, [6] and a range of actual styled clothing and cloth making materials as well as what may be interpreted as pieces of looms and cosmetic items and jewelry from Helwan. From around the beginning of the Old Kingdom significant new forms of evidence starts to dominate and become more available for the assessment of daily life, these are wall paintings and art.

    Before this period there are very few examples of tomb wall decoration such as the painting in the Chalcolithic Tomb at Hierakonpolis showing scenes of hunting and domestic activities. The inclusion of temporal ordering within these tomb paintings also provides us with a timeline of the daily activities. This theme continues well into the New Kingdom with wall decoration such as from the tomb of Menkheperran-sonb at Thebes Dynasty 18 showing artisans at work.

    Tomb and chapel scenes provide for much of the basis of assessment of daily life. This fifth dynasty wall painting from the tomb of Nefer and Kahay is a prime example of the many parts of life depicted See image above. Not only does this wall painting show us areas of agricultural life, farming and fowling, but also preparation of food and what could be interpreted as a scene of leisure with dancers. In certain later periods such as the Amarna Period in the New Kingdom, artistic evidence becomes less useful to the assessment of daily life, as with the reign of Akhenaten, artistic expression was based on the Royal Family.

    This allows for a rare view of the daily lives of the Royals, but not of the common people. Middle Kingdom scenes of everyday activities generally follow the traditional scenes of the Old Kingdom. Scenes of daily life are found in fragments of reliefs from both Royal and Private tombs and chapels, especially at sites like Beni Hasan which is the location of many privately owned tombs of the Middle Kingdom.

    Scenes continue in this period to depict hunting and fishing, and food preparation; some scholars believe that these scenes were simply copied from the Old Kingdom prototypes but they still provide us with a foundation from which to assess activities of daily life.