Death And The Afterlife

The Egyptians believed that when they died they would make a journey to another world where they would lead a new life. They would need all the things they had used when they were alive, so their families would put those things in their graves. Egyptians paid vast amounts of money to have their bodies properly preserved - trained undertakers treated the body with chemicals and wrapped it in tight bandages to keep it in shape.

Making A Mummy:

  1. First of all remove the brain either through the nose or from behind the eye. (throw away the brain or feed it to the cat).Embalming a Mummy
  2. Fill the empty skull with Natron (Natron is a salty chemical found around the shores of the lakes near Cairo) and plaster.
  3. Cut open the body. Take out the stomach and clean it with palm wine. Fill in the hole with myrrh and other spices.
  4. Take out the liver, intestines and lungs and put them in canopic jars, add Natron and seal them. Do the same with the stomach.
  5. Stuff the body with linen rags and sew it up with only the heart left inside. This is very important as it will be weighed later when the person reaches the afterlife.
  6. Place the body in Natron for 70 days.
  7. Wash the body and wrap it from head to foot in bandages of fine linen cloth smeared with gum - the bandages can be made from as much as 375 square metres of material, enough to cover a basketball court).
  8. Perform the Ceremony of opening the mouth of the mummy - if this was not done the mummy would not be able to eat, drink, breathe or talk.
  9. Place the mummy into a coffin.
  10. Place the coffin inside a tomb, the greatest of tombs being a pyramid but only Pharaohs and queens could have pyramids built.

The Afterlife - The Egyptians believed that to get to the afterlife they would have to pass through a dangerous place with perils such as monsters, boiling lakes, fires and particularly nasty snakes that spat out poison. These evils could be overcome by the right spells and the Egyptians often wrote down the Weighing the Heartspells on paper and left them in or near the coffin. If they overcame the evils they would reach the gates of Yaru (the Egyptian afterlife) and meet their friends again. But first they had to pass the greatest test of all in the Hall of Two Truths. This test involved weighing the heart, the only organ which had been left in the body. The heart was placed on one side of a balance and in the other side was placed the Feather of Truth: the Feather of Truth held all the lies and sins of their past life. The 3 great gods, Osiris, Anubis and Thoth, decided the result of the weighing. If the heart passed the test then the dead person was allowed to enter the gates of Yaru but if the heart failed the test then it was eaten by a terrifying monster known as the devourer. The devourer was part crocodile, part hippopotamus and part lion and once it had eaten a heart the dead person was gone for ever.

Click here to go back to the main Ancient Egypt Page.