Many of the traditions practiced over 4,000 years ago in ancient Egypt are still practiced today. The ancient Egyptians believed in an afterlife, one they called the Kingdom of the Dead. This is very similar to some modern religious beliefs in Heaven. The soul, or ka as the Egyptians called it, would be passed on to this afterlife. Many religions today believe in the afterlife and the continuation of a persons mind, memories, personality, and of course their soul.
The ancient Egyptians also practiced the art of mummification, which is the preservation of the body. They did this because “even after death, the ka needed a body to inhabit—either a carved likeliness of the deceased or his or her actual corpse, preserved by mummification.” (Art A Brief History, Stockstad, Cothren page 60.) Today, we do not practice the art of mummification, probably because it takes about 72 days to preform. Instead, we follow a similar, but quicker practice of embalming the body using chemicals instead of salts like the Egyptians used. This process is much quicker, but still serves the same purpose of preserving the body.
After the Egyptians were done with the mummification process, they placed the deceased in tombs that they filled with their most valuable possessions, and sometimes-even servants. They did this so to help sustain the ka in the afterlife. They believed that the possessions would be with them in the afterlife and the servants will still serve them. They also believed that the ka’s transition into the afterlife would need to be handled in the same way it was in life. This is very similar to what modern religions practice at a funeral. We place the most sacred possessions into the coffin of the deceased to help make the journey into afterlife a more comfortable trip. For instance, if the deceased was an aspiring writer or poet, we may place a pen and pad in the coffin for him or her to continue writing after death.
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