Burial Practices, Afterlife and Mummies

The Egyptians believed in a soul that lived on after death, called a ka; they believed that providing for the needs of the ancestors assured safety and prosperity for the living; they believed that the afterlife was very similar to this life, and so they ensured that their possessions were buried with them. These beliefs led to elaborate burial practices, the building of tombs by the rich and powerful, and of course the mummification process.

 

Gods and Religion

The ancient Egyptians worshipped hundreds, if not thousands of gods and goddesses. In addition to the many familiar names, such as Isis and Osiris, small towns had their own patron deities. For example, the small town now called Deir el-Medina, the home of the artists who created the tombs in the Valley of the Kings, worshipped a local mountain, which they called Meret-Seger, or "She-Who-Loves-Silence" (very appropriate for the area of the royal tombs!)

 

Kings and Pharaohs

In ancient Egypt, the king was called "The Living Horus," after the falcon-headed god of kingship. His son and heir apparent was called "The Horus-in-the-Nest." His dead father was called the Osiris, after Horus's own father. Horus was married to the goddess Hathor, so the Great King's Wife, the queen, took on that role. You may know the king of Egypt by another name-the pharaoh. This word actually means "Great House," or "per-aha" in ancient Egyptian. The name was used by the Greeks, and has come down to us through history.

 

Daily Life, Trade, & Neighbors

Most ancient Egyptians were farmers or craftsmen. Some of them were scribes or the official writers and a very small percentage of ancient Egyptians were nobles and royalty. Many of the artifacts in the Daily Life gallery give us a glimpse of the Egyptians' everyday lives. The Kohl tube, hair accessories, mirrors, and perfume bottles tell us that the Egyptians were fastidious about their appearance. The children and even the adults liked to play games, and beer was a staple drink.

 

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