Ancient Egyptian afterlife beliefs
Ancient Egyptian afterlife beliefs were centered around a variety of complex rituals, that were influenced by many aspects of Egyptian culture. Religion was a major contributor, since it was an important social practice that bound all Egyptians together. For instance, many of the Egyptian gods played roles in guiding the souls of the dead through the afterlife. With the evolution of writing, religious ideals were recorded and spread throughout the Egyptian community; the solidification and commencement of these doctrines were formed in the creation of afterlife texts which illustrated and explained what the dead would need to know in order to complete the journey safely. Egyptian religious doctrines included three basic afterlife ideologies; the underworld known as the Duat had only one entrance that could be reached by travelling through the tomb of the deceased. The initial image a soul would be presented with upon entering this realm was a corridor lined with an array of fascinating statues, including a variation of the famous hawk-headed god, Horus.
It must be noted that the path taken to the underworld may have varied between kings and common people. After entry, spirits were presented to Osiris. Osiris would determine the virtue of the deceased's soul and grant those deemed deserving a peaceful afterlife; the Egyptian concept of'eternal life' was seen as being reborn indefinitely. Therefore, the souls who had were guided to Osiris to be born again. In order to achieve the ideal afterlife, many practices must be performed during one's life; this may have included following the beliefs of Egyptian creed. Additionally, the Egyptians stressed. In other words, it was the responsibility of the living to carry out the final traditions required so the dead could promptly meet their final fate. Maintaining high religious morals by both the living and the dead, as well as complying to a variety of traditions guaranteed the deceased a smoother transition into the underworld. There were many challenges the dead had to face before they were able to enter into the final stages of the afterlife.
However, through the support of the living, the dead had access to the protection and knowledge they would need to be reborn in the netherworld. The design and scale of Egyptian burial tombs varied from period to period though their function remained the same. While most tombs were built during the lifetime of the person it was meant for, Egyptian tombs were constructed to house the body of the dead, but functioned to transmit the soul to the underworld. Most of the what was found in a tomb depended on the status of the person buried within it. However, in order to assist the dead, most tombs were decorated with afterlife texts meant to help guide the deceased's soul to the afterlife, something, attainable to all. Throughout the centuries, the Egyptian people decorated their tombs and coffins with religious spells and texts hoping to help the dead in the afterlife; as Egyptian culture developed these texts, evolved, becoming more complex and extensive in nature. The Pyramid Texts were the first religious spells to be carved into the walls of royal ancient Egyptian pyramids.
Beginning in the Old Kingdom period, these texts were used by the Egyptian pharaohs to decorate the walls of their tombs. However, Egyptian Queens and high-ranking government officials soon began to use Pyramid Texts in their burial tombs as well; the purpose of these texts were to help the pharaoh complete his journey through the afterlife, by conveying knowledge to the deceased about the paths he should take and the dangers he might face along the way. In the Middle Kingdom period the Pyramid texts were replaced by the Coffin Texts; the Coffin Texts were spells. They were meant to protect the deceased in the afterlife and provide them with the transformation magic they would need along their journey; these Coffin Texts were more attainable, providing the common people of Egypt the opportunity to attain a proper afterlife. It is important to note that the collection of Coffin Texts known as The Book of Two Ways functioned as the earliest manual to the afterlife; the Book of the Dead was an extensive collection of spells that included material from both the Pyramid Texts and the Coffin Texts.
In the New Kingdom period, papyrus was what the Book of the Dead was recorded on. However, it could be found on the tomb walls and the wrappings of mummies. Like the Coffin Texts, the spells illustrated within the Book of the Dead were used by everyone; these spells offered advice and knowledge to the dead as they journeyed through the netherworld. The Books of the Netherworld contained multiple texts that provided the deceased with a description of the underworld and served as a guide to help the dead during their final journey. Since the deceased were seen replicating the rebirth cycle of Ra as they travelled through the afterlife, these texts focused on the second half of the sun god's journey, which took him through the underworld at night; the earlier Books of the Netherworld, which include the Amduat and the Book of Gates, divided their narratives into twelve parts, symbolizing the twelve hours the sun god spent in the underworld. Books such as the Book of Caverns and the Book of the Earth used a more sectionalized approach when presenting their narratives.
All of these books contained complex illustrations of the netherworld, which could be seen etched into coffins and the walls of burial tombs. The Books of Sky consisted of three afte
The Osiris myth is the most elaborate and influential story in ancient Egyptian mythology. It concerns the murder of the god Osiris, a primeval king of Egypt, its consequences. Osiris's murderer, his brother Set, usurps his throne. Meanwhile, Osiris's wife Isis restores her husband's body, allowing him to posthumously conceive their son, Horus; the remainder of the story focuses on Horus, the product of the union of Isis and Osiris, at first a vulnerable child protected by his mother and becomes Set's rival for the throne. Their violent conflict ends with Horus's triumph, which restores Maat to Egypt after Set's unrighteous reign and completes the process of Osiris's resurrection; the myth, with its complex symbolism, is integral to ancient Egyptian conceptions of kingship and succession, conflict between order and disorder, death and the afterlife. It expresses the essential character of each of the four deities at its center, many elements of their worship in ancient Egyptian religion were derived from the myth.
The Osiris myth reached its basic form in or before the 24th century BCE. Many of its elements originated in religious ideas, but the struggle between Horus and Set may have been inspired by a regional conflict in Egypt's Early Dynastic or Prehistoric Egypt. Scholars have tried to discern the exact nature of the events that gave rise to the story, but they have reached no definitive conclusions. Parts of the myth appear in a wide variety of Egyptian texts, from funerary texts and magical spells to short stories; the story is, more detailed and more cohesive than any other ancient Egyptian myth. Yet no Egyptian source gives a full account of the myth, the sources vary in their versions of events. Greek and Roman writings On Isis and Osiris by Plutarch, provide more information but may not always reflect Egyptian beliefs. Through these writings, the Osiris myth persisted after knowledge of most ancient Egyptian beliefs was lost, it is still well known today; the myth of Osiris was influential in ancient Egyptian religion and was popular among ordinary people.
One reason for this popularity is the myth's primary religious meaning, which implies that any dead person can reach a pleasant afterlife. Another reason is that the characters and their emotions are more reminiscent of the lives of real people than those in most Egyptian myths, making the story more appealing to the general populace. In particular, the myth conveys a "strong sense of family loyalty and devotion", as the Egyptologist J. Gwyn Griffiths put it, in the relationships between Osiris and Horus. With this widespread appeal, the myth appears in more ancient texts than any other myth and in an exceptionally broad range of Egyptian literary styles; these sources provide an unusual amount of detail. Ancient Egyptian myths are vague; each text that contains a myth, or a fragment of one, may adapt the myth to suit its particular purposes, so different texts can contain contradictory versions of events. Because the Osiris myth was used in such a variety of ways, versions conflict with each other.
The fragmentary versions, taken together, give it a greater resemblance to a cohesive story than most Egyptian myths. The earliest mentions of the Osiris myth are in the Pyramid Texts, the first Egyptian funerary texts, which appeared on the walls of burial chambers in pyramids at the end of the Fifth Dynasty, during the 24th century BCE; these texts, made up of disparate spells or "utterances", contain ideas that are presumed to date from still earlier times. The texts are concerned with the afterlife of the king buried in the pyramid, so they refer to the Osiris myth, involved with kingship and the afterlife. Major elements of the story, such as the death and restoration of Osiris and the strife between Horus and Set, appear in the utterances of the Pyramid Texts. Funerary texts written in times, such as the Coffin Texts from the Middle Kingdom and the Book of the Dead from the New Kingdom contain elements of the myth. Other types of religious texts give evidence for the myth, such as two Middle Kingdom texts: the Dramatic Ramesseum Papyrus and the Ikhernofret Stela.
The papyrus describes the coronation of Senusret I, whereas the stela alludes to events in the annual festival of Khoiak. Rituals in both these festivals reenacted elements of the Osiris myth; the most complete ancient Egyptian account of the myth is the Great Hymn to Osiris, an inscription from the Eighteenth Dynasty that gives the general outline of the entire story but includes little detail. Another important source is the Memphite Theology, a religious narrative that includes an account of Osiris's death as well as the resolution of the dispute between Horus and Set; this narrative associates the kingship that Osiris and Horus represent with Ptah, the creator deity of Memphis. The text was long thought to date back to the Old Kingdom and was treated as a source for information about the early stages in the development of the myth. Since the 1970s, Egyptologists have concluded that the text dates to the New Kingdom at the earliest. Rituals in honor of Osiris are another major source of information.
Some of these texts are found on the walls of temples that date from the New Kingdom, the Ptolemaic era, or the Roman era. Some of these late ritual texts, in which Isis and Nephthys lament their brother's death, were adapted into funerary texts. In these texts, the goddesses' pleas were meant to rouse Osiris—and thus the dece
Mortuary temples were temples that were erected adjacent to, or in the vicinity of, royal tombs in Ancient Egypt. The temples were designed to commemorate the reign of the Pharaoh under whom they were constructed, as well as for use by the king's cult after death. Mortuary temples were built around pyramids in the Old Middle Kingdom. However, once the New Kingdom pharaohs began constructing tombs in the Valley of the Kings, they built their mortuary temples separately; these New Kingdom temples were called "mansions of millions of years" by the Egyptians. The mortuary temples were used as a resting place for the boat of Amun at the time of the Beautiful Festival of the Valley, during which the cult statue of the deity visited the west bank of Thebes; the first mortuary temple was built for Amenhotep I of the 18th dynasty during the New Kingdom. Several other rulers of this dynasty built temples for the same purpose, the best known being those at Deir el-Bahari, where Hatshepsut built beside the funerary temple of Mentuhotep II, that of Amenhotep III, of which the only major extant remains are the Colossi of Memnon.
Rulers of the 18th Dynasty either failed to build here at all or, in the case of Tutankhamun, Ay and Horemheb, their construction was not completed. The 19th Dynasty ruler Seti I constructed his temple at. Part of his "Glorious temple of Seti Merenptah in the field of Amun which resides at the West of Thebes" was dedicated to his father Ramesses I, whose short reign prevented him from building his own, was completed by his son Ramesses II. Ramesses II constructed his own temple, referred to as the Ramesseum: "Temple of a million years of Usermaatre Setepenre, linked with Thebes-the-Quoted in the Field of Amun, in the West". Much during the 20th Dynasty, Ramesses III constructed his own temple at Medinet Habu
Osiris is the god of the afterlife, the underworld, rebirth in ancient Egyptian religion. He was classically depicted as a green-skinned deity with a pharaoh's beard mummy-wrapped at the legs, wearing a distinctive atef crown, holding a symbolic crook and flail. Osiris was at times considered the eldest son of the god Geb and the sky goddess Nut, as well as being brother and husband of Isis, with Horus being considered his posthumously begotten son, he was associated with the epithet Khenti-Amentiu, meaning "Foremost of the Westerners", a reference to his kingship in the land of the dead. As ruler of the dead, Osiris was sometimes called "king of the living": ancient Egyptians considered the blessed dead "the living ones". Through syncretism with Iah, he is the god of the Moon. Osiris was considered the brother of Isis, Set and Horus the Elder, father of Horus the Younger; the first evidence of the worship of Osiris was found in the middle of the Fifth dynasty of Egypt, although it is that he was worshiped much earlier.
Most information available on the myths of Osiris is derived from allusions contained in the Pyramid Texts at the end of the Fifth Dynasty New Kingdom source documents such as the Shabaka Stone and the Contending of Horus and Seth, much in narrative style from the writings of Greek authors including Plutarch and Diodorus Siculus. Osiris was the judge of the dead and the underworld agency that granted all life, including sprouting vegetation and the fertile flooding of the Nile River, he was described as "He Who is Permanently Benign and Youthful" and the "Lord of Silence". The Kings of Egypt were associated with Osiris in death – as Osiris rose from the dead so would they in union with him, inherit eternal life through a process of imitative magic. Through the hope of new life after death, Osiris began to be associated with the cycles observed in nature, in particular vegetation and the annual flooding of the Nile, through his links with the heliacal rising of Orion and Sirius at the start of the new year.
Osiris was worshipped until the decline of ancient Egyptian religion during the rise of Christianity in the Roman Empire. Osiris is a Latin transliteration of the Ancient Greek Ὄσιρις IPA:, which in turn is the Greek adaptation of the original name in the Egyptian language. In Egyptian hieroglyphs the name appears as wsjr, which some Egyptologists instead choose to transliterate ꜣsjr or jsjrj. Since hieroglyphic writing lacks vowels, Egyptologists have vocalized the name in various ways, such as Asar, Ausir, Usir, or Usire. Several proposals have been made for the meaning of the original name. Most take wsjr as the accepted transliteration, following Adolf Erman: John Gwyn Griffiths, "bearing in mind Erman's emphasis on the fact that the name must begin with an w", proposes a derivation from wsr with an original meaning of "The Mighty One". Moreover, one of the oldest attestations of the god Osiris appears in the mastaba of the deceased Netjer-wser. Kurt Sethe proposes a compound st-jrt, meaning "seat of the eye", in a hypothetical earlier form *wst-jrt.
David Lorton takes up this same compound but explains st-jrt as signifying "product, something made", Osiris representing the product of the ritual mummification process. Wolfhart Westendorf proposes an etymology from wꜣst-jrt "she who bears the eye". Mark J. Smith makes no definitive proposals but asserts that the second element must be a form of jrj; however alternative transliterations have been proposed: Yoshi Muchiki reexamines Erman's evidence that the throne hieroglyph in the word is to be read ws and finds it unconvincing, suggesting instead that the name should be read ꜣsjr on the basis of Aramaic and Old South Arabian transcriptions, readings of the throne sign in other words, comparison with ꜣst. James P. Allen reads the word as jsjrt but revises the reading to jsjrj and derives it from js-jrj, meaning "engendering principle". Osiris is represented in his most developed form of iconography wearing the Atef crown, similar to the White crown of Upper Egypt, but with the addition of two curling ostrich feathers at each side.
He carries the crook and flail. The crook is thought to represent Osiris as a shepherd god; the symbolism of the flail is more uncertain with shepherds whip, fly-whisk, or association with the god Andjety of the ninth nome of Lower Egypt proposed. He was depicted as a pharaoh with a complexion of either green or black in mummiform; the Pyramid Texts describe early conceptions of an afterlife in terms of eternal travelling with the sun god amongst the stars. Amongst these mortuary texts, at the beginning of the 4th dynasty, is found: "An offering the king gives and Anubis". By the end of the 5th dynasty, the formula in all tombs becomes "An offering the king gives and Osiris". Osiris is the mythological father of the god Horus, whose conception is described in the Osiris myth; the myth describes Osiris as having been killed by his brother, Set
Opening of the mouth ceremony
The opening of the mouth ceremony was an ancient Egyptian ritual described in funerary texts such as the Pyramid Texts. The ceremony involved a symbolic animation of a statue or mummy by magically opening its mouth so that it could breathe and speak. There is evidence of this ritual from the Old Kingdom to the Roman Period. Special tools were used to perform the ceremony, such as a ritual adze, an arm shaped ritual censer, a spooned blade known as a peseshkaf, a serpent-head blade, a variety of other amulets. A calf's leg was held up to the lips painted on the coffin; the ancient Egyptians believed that in order for a person's soul to survive in the afterlife it would need to have food and water. The opening of the mouth ritual was thus performed so that the person who died could eat and drink again in the afterlife; the ceremony involved up to 75 "episodes" and, in its most complete version, included the following stages: Episodes 1–9 Preliminary rites Episodes 10–22 Animation of the statue Episodes 23–42 Meat offerings aligned with upper Egypt Episodes 43–46 Meat offerings aligned with lower Egypt Episodes 47–71 Funerary meal Episodes 72–75 Closing ritesThe Book of the Dead contains a spell for this process, which the deceased may use on themselves: Translating as "opening of the mouth," the Egyptian terms for the ritual are wpt-r and um-r.
According to Ann Macy Roth, the verb wpi connotes an opening that splits, divides or separates: "it can be used, for example, to describe the separation of two combatants, the dividing of time, or an analysis or determination of the truth." Parallels between the Opening of the Mouth and Psalm 51 have been noted. The parallels include: Mentions of ritual washing with special herbs. Restoration of broken bones. "O Lord, open thou my lips". Sacrifices. Ancient Egyptian burial customs
Banebdjedet was an Ancient Egyptian ram god with a cult centre at Mendes. Khnum was the equivalent god in Upper Egypt, his wife was the goddess Hatmehit, the original deity of Mendes. Their offspring was "Horus the Child" and they formed the so-called "Mendesian Triad"; the words for "ram" and "soul" sounded the same in Egyptian so ram deities were at times regarded as appearances of other gods. The horned god Banebdjedet was depicted with four rams' heads to represent the four Ba's of the sun god, he may be linked to the first four gods to rule over Egypt, with large granite shrines to each in the Mendes sanctuary. The Book of the Heavenly Cow describes the "Ram of Mendes" as being the Ba of Osiris, but this was not an exclusive association. A story dated to the New Kingdom describes him as being consulted by the "Divine Tribunal" to judge between Horus and Seth, but he proposes that Neith do it instead as an act of diplomacy; as the dispute continues, it is Banebdjedet who suggests that Seth be given the throne as he is the elder brother.
In a chapel in the Ramesseum, a stela records how the god Ptah took the form of Banebdjedet, in view of gaining his virility, in order to have union with the woman who would conceive Rameses II
Egyptian hieroglyphs were the formal writing system used in Ancient Egypt. Hieroglyphs combined logographic and alphabetic elements, with a total of some 1,000 distinct characters. Cursive hieroglyphs were used for religious literature on papyrus and wood; the hieratic and demotic Egyptian scripts were derived from hieroglyphic writing, as was the Proto-Siniatic script that evolved into the Phoenician alphabet. Through the Phoenician alphabet's major child systems, the Greek and Aramaic scripts, the Egyptian hieroglyphic script is ancestral to the majority of scripts in modern use, most prominently the Latin and Cyrillic scripts and the Arabic script and Brahmic family of scripts; the use of hieroglyphic writing arose from proto-literate symbol systems in the Early Bronze Age, around the 32nd century BC, with the first decipherable sentence written in the Egyptian language dating to the Second Dynasty. Egyptian hieroglyphs developed into a mature writing system used for monumental inscription in the classical language of the Middle Kingdom period.
The use of this writing system continued through the New Kingdom and Late Period, on into the Persian and Ptolemaic periods. Late survivals of hieroglyphic use are found well into the Roman period, extending into the 4th century AD. With the final closing of pagan temples in the 5th century, knowledge of hieroglyphic writing was lost. Although attempts were made, the script remained undeciphered throughout the Middle Ages and the early modern period; the decipherment of hieroglyphic writing would only be accomplished in the 1820s by Jean-François Champollion, with the help of the Rosetta Stone. The word hieroglyph comes from the Greek adjective ἱερογλυφικός, a compound of ἱερός and γλύφω; the glyphs themselves since the Ptolemaic period were called τὰ ἱερογλυφικὰ "the sacred engraved letters", the Greek counterpart to the Egyptian expression of mdw.w-nṯr "god's words". Greek ἱερογλυφός meant "a carver of hieroglyphs". In English, hieroglyph as a noun is recorded from 1590 short for nominalised hieroglyphic, from adjectival use.
Hieroglyphs may have emerged from the preliterate artistic traditions of Egypt. For example, symbols on Gerzean pottery from c. 4000 BC have been argued to resemble hieroglyphic writing. Proto-hieroglyphic symbol systems develop in the second half of the 4th millennium BC, such as the clay labels of a Predynastic ruler called "Scorpion I" recovered at Abydos in 1998 or the Narmer Palette; the first full sentence written in mature hieroglyphs so far discovered was found on a seal impression found in the tomb of Seth-Peribsen at Umm el-Qa'ab, which dates from the Second Dynasty. There are around 800 hieroglyphs dating back to the Old Kingdom, Middle Kingdom and New Kingdom Eras. By the Greco-Roman period, there are more than 5,000. Geoffrey Sampson stated that Egyptian hieroglyphs "came into existence a little after Sumerian script, invented under the influence of the latter", that it is "probable that the general idea of expressing words of a language in writing was brought to Egypt from Sumerian Mesopotamia".
There are many instances of early Egypt-Mesopotamia relations, but given the lack of direct evidence for the transfer of writing, "no definitive determination has been made as to the origin of hieroglyphics in ancient Egypt". Instead, it is pointed out and held that "the evidence for such direct influence remains flimsy” and that “a credible argument can be made for the independent development of writing in Egypt..." Since the 1990s, the discoveries of glyphs at Abydos, dated to between 3400 and 3200 BCE, may challenge the classical notion according to which the Mesopotamian symbol system predates the Egyptian one, although Egyptian writing does make a sudden apparition at that time, while on the contrary Mesopotamia has an evolutionnary history of sign usage in tokens dating back to circa 8000 BCE. Hieroglyphs consist of three kinds of glyphs: phonetic glyphs, including single-consonant characters that function like an alphabet; as writing developed and became more widespread among the Egyptian people, simplified glyph forms developed, resulting in the hieratic and demotic scripts.
These variants were more suited than hieroglyphs for use on papyrus. Hieroglyphic writing was not, eclipsed, but existed alongside the other forms in monumental and other formal writing; the Rosetta Stone contains three parallel scripts – hieroglyphic and Greek. Hieroglyphs continued to be used under Persian rule, after Alexander the Great's conquest of Egypt, during the ensuing Ptolemaic and Roman periods, it appears that the misleading quality of comments from Greek and Roman writers about hieroglyphs came about, at least in part, as a response to the changed political situation. Some believed that hieroglyphs may have functioned as a way to distinguish'true Egyptians' from some of the foreign conquerors. Another reason may be the refusal to tackle a foreign culture on its own terms, which characterized Greco-Roman approaches to Egyptian culture generally. Having learned that hieroglyphs were sacred writing, Greco-Roman authors imagined the complex but rational system as an allegorical magical, system transmitting secre