Student Question

What do Egyptian burial practices reveal about their views on death and the afterlife?

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What Egyptian burial practices tell us about Egyptians' attitudes toward death and the afterlife is that they believed in the immortality of the soul.

All of the burial practices associated with ancient Egypt are geared toward this end. The Egyptians believed that if the correct rituals weren't followed, then the dead would not achieve life in the next world.

To that end, the Egyptians put into practice a number of highly elaborate rituals expressly designed to facilitate the journey of the soul from this world to the next, which was called the Field of Reeds. In the afterlife, so the Egyptians believed, the soul of the dead would find a reflection of its life on earth. What had been lost in one's earthly life at death would be readily available in the Field of Reeds.

Corresponding to the belief in a heavenly afterlife for those souls that had made the journey was the notion that, in order for that journey to be made, the body of the deceased had to be well-preserved on earth. This largely accounts for the famous practice of mummification, by which corpses were preserved. Internal organs were also preserved in separate jars with the same purpose in mind.

For the ancient Egyptians, the connection between the body and the soul was very intimate, and it was essential for burial rites to preserve this connection as much as possible.

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