Ancient Egyptian Funeral Practices

Posted: 23/07/2018

The ancient Egyptians are famous for their elaborate, and frankly alien, set of funeral practices. Their practices were deemed necessary in order to ensure immortality after death, which basically means a person arriving at the afterlife.

Like with many practices, the Egyptian burial process evolved over the years as old customs became redundant and new ones were adopted. However, several important aspects remained consistent through the age.

Mummification & Embalming

Egyptian-Mummification

One of the crucial and well-known aspects of ancient Egyptian funeral practices is mummification. The perseveration of the dead body was of the utmost importance for acceptance into the afterlife. Therefore, the body of the dead was embalmed as quickly as possible. The body must be embalmed in a specific fashion since it was believed that the soul leaves the body after death, and only if it is embalmed in a special way will the soul return to the body.

The family and friends of the deceased have a choice of options which are all dependant on prices, similar to a modern-day funeral home.

The embalmers will prepare the body for mummification after transporting the body to the “place of purification” where it will take place.

The main process for mummification involves dehydrating the body using natron (a combination of baking soda and salt). The body will be drained of any liquids and left with the skin, hair and muscles all preserved. This process was reserved for those who could afford it. However, it was believed that people who could not afford still had a chance of entering the afterlife if the right spells were recited.

For the most common process of mummification, which also happened to be the most expensive, the internal organs and liquid from the body were removed so that the body could not decay. Once the brain was removed, they actually discarded it entirely, since they believed that the heart was the organ which was responsible for thinking.

Even though the internal organs were removed, the ancient Egyptians buried them alongside the body so they might re-join with the body in the afterlife. In other cases, the organs were cleaned and cleansed and then returned to the body. Nonetheless, in all cases, the heart remained in the body as it was considered the “hall of judgement”. After the body was washed with wine, it was stuffed with bags of natron – the dehydration process then took 40 days.

Burial Rituals

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As mentioned, pretty much all the rituals were conducted in order to keep the body preserved for the afterlife and this did not stop at the burial process.

Following the preparation of the mummy, it then undergoes a symbolic “re-animation” carried out by a priest. The mouth of the mummy would be opened to ensure that the body could breathe and speak in the afterlife. In a similar fashion, the priest would recite spells cover other parts of the body so that they could work in the afterlife too.

It was customary for Egyptians to be buried directly in the ground in the foetal position. Since the climate was so hot and dry, there was little problem with the preservation of the body.

Judgement

ancient-egyptian-gods

Intertwined with funeral practices was the ancient Egyptian religion. Ancient Egyptian religion was polytheistic and there were many different gods to please and prepare for with the practices. It was believed that each individual God would provide judgement to the deceased before he or she could enter the afterlife.

In order to be considered fit for the afterlife, those who had died were to undergo a multi-step judgement process which was based on the Book of the Dead. The Book of the Dead outlines spells which relate to the deceased and the afterlife.

After the judgement, the friends and family of the deceased were to celebrate them and boasted about their entry into the afterlife.

Modern Day Funeral plans

a-guide-to-being-a-pallbearer

As you can see, funerals have long been an important part of society and have always been of financial worry. If you are left worried about the rising price of a funeral in the UK, you could opt for a prepaid funeral plan. This essentially freezes the price of today’s funeral and will relieve you and your family of any financial stress in this department