Death encompasses the cultural traits of all irrespective of religious beliefs, race, status and political views, as everyone on this earth is ordained to die one day. The human history is thus marked by the evolution of the various societies developing complex and intrinsic rituals to combat the looming death. In the case of ancient Egypt, though it is portrayed as the one obsessed with death, the Egyptian burials and customs deliver more to the funerary rituals that connect to the various religious functionalities of their ancient society.
The discoveries of their unique tombs and the burial objects have provided much information about the role the religion played in molding the Egyptian culture that focused on the afterlife (Zeman 4). While Egypt progressed through 2 millenniums from the Archaic period to the New Kingdom period, there occurred significant changes in the burial practices. Beginning with the practice of burials in sand in 3100 BC, the transition went on unceasing and it ranged from mummification and embalming to the removal of internal organs of the dead in 2600 BC. the process continued incorporating the construction of pyramids and application of pyramid and coffin texts followed by the removal of brain and usage of the ‘Book of the Dead’ along with the mummification and embalming till it reached 1000 BC.
Before it i.e., between 2000 BC and 1000 BC, they practiced the removal of the internal organs from the dead body and placing them dried inside typical canopic jars. But after 1000 BC, the mummification procedures were changed drastically to accommodate the act of putting the internal organs back into the dead body embalmed (Ancientegypt.co.uk.).
Highlights of Egyptian civilization
Egyptian civilization thrived along the banks of the River Nile from circa 3200 BC after the unification of the Upper Egypt which was a narrow valley up the river Nile and the Lower Egypt seen as a wide delta expanse in the northern part. The civilization that flourished after the unification is considered as one of the earliest civilizations on this earth. Dating back from 3100 BC it underwent continual progress and declined at last when the Roman Empire conquered the Egyptian kingdom in circa 31 BC ending the rule of the Pharaohs.
The several archeological excavations done hitherto have established unequivocally that the ancient Egyptians had bosomed strong beliefs that the life on this earth was only transient and that it would not end with the physical death. They thought that they were destined to undertake their journey further through the afterlife successfully and guided by the Sun God called Re to live forever in the netherworld known as Duat. They affirmed themselves that the funerary articles earned during their life time would allow an easy passage for them to the eternal life. The funerary objects that range from gold masks and canopic jars to stone coffins and other valuable things which were excavated and now placed in the several museums indicate the level of life they had led in ancient Egypt (Dollinge n.pag.).
From the commencement of the dynastic period, tombs were built filling them with funeral objects like furniture, pottery and stone vessels they had collected during their life time. However, the poor among them wrapped the dead bodies in linen covers, while the wealthy were coffined lavishly.
Irrespective of the class of the funerary materials the Egyptians cherished the idea that these objects would certainly lead them to the life after death and that every human being was a synthesis of body and soul and that the soul would enter the body in the afterlife. Therefore, they spent major portion of their life on earth doing preparations for the life they wanted in the netherworld. This thinking course of the ancient Egyptian people governed the practices of embalming and mummification of their dead bodies.
During the passage of time the rights to embalm the bodies that were confined only within the limits of the rulers were equally allowed to be done by the lay people also. To the ancient Egyptians, when somebody died, the spirit of the person would separate into three entities; the first one being the individuality known as Ka would remain within the body in the tomb manifested as a Ka statue which resembled the deceased; the second one being Ba, i.e., the soul having the ability to go anywhere at will; and the third one called Akhu, the spiritual part of the person that could dwell in the universe. The preservation of the body was carried out in such a way that the trinity could identify its earthly body and enter it to enjoy the eternal life (Dollinge n.pag.).
It is quite relevant to note that no other ancient society in the world has demanded more attention on the burial customs than that of the ancient Egyptian community. This fact is mentioned in the Encyclopaedia of Death and Dying (qtd. in Gallery 1). Renowned anthropologists like Arnold Van Gennep and Metcalf and Huntington have contributed much information to the world about the ancient Egyptian royal burials (Stevenson 175).
According to Alice Stevenson, there are two modes of interpretation of the ancient Egyptian burials. The first interpretation is about the funerary customs that confirm the afterlife of the dead and the second one is about the objects accumulated in the graves that relate to the social status of the deceased to proclaim their social hierarchy. Michael Hoffman who promoted the Egyptian archaeology argued that the Egyptian tombs were explicitly technical as well as aesthetical rather than the products relating to death and ritualistic burials. He regarded burials as power-facts to convey a mortuary-cult indication to socio-economical and political aspects projecting the initiation of a state at the least (Hoffman 336).
Whatever be the arguments and reflections of the archaeologists, it has become a fact that the act of mummification and burial in ancient Egypt was very intricate and directly proportional to the social status of the deceased. In the general sense, a dead body was treated at that time as it is done today, i.e., cleansing and wrapping the body in clothes and putting it to rest in a graveyard where it undergoes the natural process of decay.
If the burial was done in a dry area like the desert where the waters of Nile would not reach, the corpses might be desiccated by the natural mummification. For, in Upper Egypt, people buried the dead bodies in the adjacent desert (Dollinge n.pag.).
Based on the details of the large number of the mummies found so far, it would be interesting to note that the majority of these ancient people of Egypt were not at all mummified. This finding proves that the mummification of dead bodies was made available only to a few elite and upper class people. Later on, the mummification was abolished on the pretext that it was a pagan practice when Egyptians became Christians, though the whole process of mummification was based on the profound belief that there existed life after death (Dollinge n.pag.).
Characteristics of ancient Egyptian burials, graves and tombs
Though it is widely accepted that the Egyptian burial had its beginning in circa 52,000 BC, the burials showing the evidence relating to the belief in afterlife have started only from 4000 BC before the unification of Upper and Lower parts of Egypt (Shaw 25). These graves mark the culture of Naqada I or Amratian period, where the Amratian dead were buried in constricted position, the head facing the west (Shaw 47).
The grave itself was an oval shaped pit demanding ritual assembly to the burial. The contracted lying position of the dead with the head placed westward underlined the belief of the Egyptians that the West was the path to the netherworld. The covering of the corpse with linen cloth to give comfort to it proves their constant belief in a life after death. In addition, the provisions of domestic utensils such as pottery, spoons, knives etc. and the grave food and drink as offerings for sustenance establish their firm conviction on the existence of the afterlife.
The presence of artistic representations implies that they believed in zoomorphic deities while the depiction of aquatic animals on the pottery shows their link to the river Nile as well as the power of the gods they worshipped (Zeman 9). In other words, these funerary objects created a cause-and-effect bond, even after the contact was lost, as these objects could very well impact upon the deceased who had contacted them earlier. The listing of the offerings found in the tombs was intended for the continual eternal offerings for the dead much after the material offerings have decayed (Hamilton 66).
Difference in the burial practice
Before Naqada III there was more elaborate construction of burials in the Upper Egypt, whereas in the Lower Egypt the burial practices were a little different to the extent that it involved only a limited space that rejected the idea of inclusion of any of the large grave furniture. That means the Maadian burial was focused on the body rather than material objects, whereas the Upper Egyptian burial system considered the body as the foundation on which association of images and objects were constructed by means of funerary goods or offerings.
However, the Maadian practices were not devoid of any of the afterlife concepts, and their approach highlighted the funeral rituals to stimulate another option for attaining the required set of values relating to life after death. The excavation sites in Gerzeh give ample evidence to this theory, as they are equaled with Upper Egyptian burials despite its geographical position. According to Alice Stevenson, the Gerzeh sample confirms the arguments that its community might have migrated to Lower Egypt from the south at this point of time (Stevenson 177).
During 2750 BC – 2180 BC, the pharaohs were regarded as the incarnations of gods. The pyramids were built by the pharaohs considering them as monumental tombs for making their resting place after death. The practice of offerings for the dead was first introduced in the Pre-dynastic period. When the mummification of the dead began, the offerings were deposited on stone slabs inside the grave, built under the sepulcher. By the Middle Kingdom period, from 2060 BC-1785 BC, a section of middle class people came into prominence. In the New Kingdom period the burial of the pharaohs was shifted to the Valley of Kings where the sun sets representing death (Alirangues 1).
About Pyramids and tombs
Starting the erection of pyramids
Immediately after the unification of the parts of Egypt the grave concepts of Naqada I cult were given deliberate changes by the Egyptians. To protect the dead from their deep slumber they piled huge mounds of stone on their graves which in turn became the pyramids. The first Step Pyramid was constructed by Imhotep, the great architect, in ca 2750 BC, during the reign of Zoser, the Pharaoh.
The erection of the Step Pyramid, in due course, led to the construction of the Giza Pyramids belonging to the Fourth Dynasty (Oakes and Gahlin 46). Before the fourth dynasty the burial rites were done in simple chapels made of bricks. The tomb owner symbolically represented as a stone stela was seated before the offering table with hieroglyphic listing of food, drink, clothing, bedding, furniture, vessels etc. During Dynasty V, building the interior chambers in the mastabas began resembling the wealthy mansions of those times and the number of legends and records increased considerably (Touregypt.net).
The Egyptian civilization reached its zenith in 2600 BC. During this period the kings namely, Khufu (2589 BC-2566 BC), Khafare (2558 BC-2532 BC) and Menkure (2532 BC-2504 BC) constructed three mammoth pyramids for making their tombs. The first of the three was the Great Pyramid erected by Khufu and it stood along with the other two, adjacent to the Great Sphinx in a cluster near Giza Plateau, along the west bank of the river Nile bordering the desert Sahara, near present Cairo. The small pyramids of Khufu’s queens were located near the Great Pyramid. These pyramids represented the glory and resurrection machines of the ancient Egyptians.
The main aim of building these pyramids by them was to prepare the grand monumental tombs for the Pharaohs. Inside of these pyramids were seen the burial chambers, ante-rooms and other retiring chambers with enough ventilation and entry paths (Historyworld.org). The exact date of erection of the sphinx is not yet confirmed and as such its construction cannot be credited to these three Pharaohs.
The pyramid was positioned so that it would align the north along a single shaft built in its core structure and pointed towards the sky to indicate the direction of heaven. The ancient Egyptians believed that the Pharaoh’s soul would travel directly from the burial chamber inside the tomb to the heaven (Fig-2 & 3). The Pyramids were thus become the Resurrection medium to the eternal life, according to them. To the ancient Egyptians, the most important stars were the two bright stars known as ‘Indestructibles’ seen in the horizon of North Pole, which they thought was the heaven (King-tut.org.uk).
In addition to that, the ancient Egyptians had linked religion with pyramids so that it would sanctify their beliefs in afterlife. The introduction of Cosmogony by the priests explained the origin of Gods and Goddesses. According to the Egyptian myths, the Sun God namely, Ra rose from the ocean and created the Earth as a mound of earth. The ancient Egyptians revered the earth seeing it as God’s image of creation.
The Sun God Ra ascended the sunrays when it first fell on him and the pyramids though they were made of physical materials representing the rays of the Sun. This was the reason why they linked the pyramid with the sun, thereby making it as the means for the deceased Pharaoh to ascend the heaven. However, this practice was discarded totally in the First Intermediate Period beginning from 2181 BC to 2040 BC, and the dead bodies of the pharaohs were buried in the Valley of Kings located near Thebes (Anciv.info).
But during reign of the descendants in the Middle Kingdom period between 2040 BC and 1782 BC, the practice was reinstated and they started erecting pyramids again for another fifteen centuries and that too ended with the beginning of New Kingdom in the year 1570 BC. The dead bodies of the Pharaohs, who ruled Egypt thereafter, were buried in rock-cut-tombs made in the Valley of Kings (King-tut.org.uk).
Construction of the Pyramids and the techniques involved
Making the Pyramids was an elaborate, complex and time consuming task for the ancient Egyptians. Initially the ground was prepared to adhere to the mathematics prevailed in those times. Accurate and precise calculations were made to build the corner blocks, slops, angles, height and the burial chamber. This was followed by fixing the raw materials like stones, pink granites and lime stones.
These materials were brought from Aswan and Tura by barges along the canals made by them to be finally delivered at the pyramid sites. The stones were then cut using bronze and copper tools and also by making holes in logs along the portion of the stone placed for cutting. Then the wooden wedges were inserted in the holes and the dry wood was allowed to expand by pouring water over it so that the stone would crack along the line. After doing these the stones were placed one on another over the base, and side blocks were connected to meet the corner-stones with a single stone on the top (King-tut.org.uk).
Even after the several excavations conducted on the pyramid sites and the various scientific studies done by the archaeologists and scholars, the building technique adopted by the ancient Egyptians to construct these massive pyramids is still not known to the world. It would be awesome to find that each stone weighed more than 3 tons. But some archeologists and scholars suggest that the Egyptians might have used the technique of single ramp technique to drag the stones into the mud ramp. A few others are of the view that the Egyptians might have applied wind power, kites, and pulleys or some other levering modes for lifting the heavy stones (King-tut.org.uk).
The world of the dead-the netherworld
The burial practices and building the graves and tombs by the ancient Egyptians were resultant of their deep rooted concept about the creation of the heaven and the earth. According to them, the heaven and the earth were originated from the inundation of waters of the river Nile. From the watery chaos rose Atum-Re, the Sun God with a falcon’s head who created gods of water and air. Atum would appear from the netherworld every morning and would sail across the sky till evening to return to his abode in the underworld. The goddess of sky named Nut was his daughter and Geb, his son. Geb was the earth god and Nut was his wife.
Important gods created by Atum were Osiris, Isis, Horus, Thoth and Anubis. Osiris was the netherworld god. Seth, his brother, killed him by drowning. Isis was his wife who brought her husband back to life to avenge the death. Horus was their son whose children protected the mummified organs of the body. Thoth was the god of writing and knowledge and acted as the judge to ascertain the eligibility of the people according to their merits for entering the kingdom of Osiris in the netherworld. Anubis looked after the embalming processes and weighed the heart to determine the merit (Newgenevacenter.org).
Religion of ancient Egyptians
The religion of ancient Egyptians was centered largely on death than the life as death, they thought, would bring eternity to them. The fundamental belief of the ancient Egyptians was that when a person died the body must remain on the earth to progress the travel through the life after death. So it became a necessity for them to preserve the dead body. The afterlife they sought required proximity of their kith and kin. But in the case of kings who were already divine while living on earth should be elevated to the God itself. As per the Pyramid Texts inscribed on the walls of the royal tombs during the period from 2500 BC to 2300 BC the king was destined to live with his other gods during his travel to the Sun God, Re. He would live in the eternity in the heaven and netherworld.
Components of the spirit
The spirit of the dead had four components such as Ka, Ba, Akh and the Shadow. The Ba was portrayed in the form of a human-headed bird. The spirit could travel anywhere whether it was inside or outside the tomb. The Akh would not die at all and was related with stars which would only transfigure as a separate living being, while Ka was the third part and more complex, for it was considered to be another portion of the person, born simultaneously with the body. It would survive being a companion and would receive the offerings and did other functions too. Therefore, the dead, irrespective of its ethereal forms, needed sustenance to live peacefully in the eternity. The burial practices and building the tombs and graves were all set to achieve this objective by the ancient Egyptians (Dodson 1).
The magical machine
The Ancient Egyptians were proponents of sympathetic magic and they applied it in every field of their day to day life, especially in the preparation of graves, tombs and pyramids. The pharaoh was the sole owner and custodian of manpower and all of the valuable resources of the land, and as such, he deserved the maximum number of depictions of religious rites and offerings in the tombs and pyramids. The people used sympathetic magic to safeguard their pharaohs from all kinds of disasters, for they feared the frequent troubles in the form of natural calamities and civil riots.
Egypt being indeed an oasis in the vast desert, the people were not at all isolated. It was a trade route to the Western Asia and Central Africa. Nevertheless, the Egyptians were dependent on the river Nile for cultivation and other necessities and they prospered enjoying the fertility gifted by the Nile. But if the very river did not flood at its own as expected by the people, the people would become disappointed much against their wish. To make matters worse, there would be intermittent foreign invasions and threats from various diseases. To overpower these alarming situations and to ward off the enemies, the ancient Egyptians found refuge in the lavish use of sympathetic magic (Zeman 6).
The formation of pyramids acted as only one fraction of the entire magical machine that connected the dead pharaohs between the distinct two worlds, viz., the living and the dead. The cluster of pyramids was on the desert boundaries and the Valley Building became the entrance to the burial monuments. The burial procession consisting of priests, guests and visitors used to pass through the ritualistic halls and would enter the walkway and up to the cliff like edge of the desert land that led to the mortuary hall or temple on the eastern part of the pyramid. Behind the courtyard was the sacred place where offerings were made to the spirit of the dead pharaoh.
On one side of the mortuary would lay a burial boat intended to carry the dead to the heaven. The Egyptian tomb had two main parts. One was the offering place and the other was the burial place. In most of the pyramids a narrow opening that led to a path to the tomb was the entrance. The burial chamber was made very deep underground and it had a descending passage with a room in the form of a stone coffin, carved out of the rock (Dodson 3).
Socio-economic background of burials
The archaeological mortuary studies during the past two decades have developed much to determine the status gradations of the burial objects and other household utensils. Such gradations and interpretations are centered more on the roles of the mourners participating in the funerary rites and their connections to the grave objects and the dead (Hertz n.pag.). This mourning was the establishment of power relations within the living individuals or groups who used the funerals as the platforms for their pretentious exhibition of wealth to the people of their same status. On analyzing the social standard of the association of the living and the dead it is derived that the principle that ruled them during the performance of the funeral rites was that the rituals and ceremonies were the representations of their social practice than their physical involvement in it (Chapman 10).
The presence of multiple social bonds with the individuals as well as the groups while conducting the funerary rituals, irrespective of the considerations of kinship, ethnicity, class, gender, age or the working nature, proves that the whole congregation was a reflection of their social identity in terms of their material culture. Otherwise, and, if the venue of the funeral was seen as a showground, the obvious identity avowals made by them would amount to making the whole rituals as a platform for revealing the identities of the individuals or groups. And in that case all of the deep rooted beliefs and customs would have been perished eventually (Anderson 182).
In the ancient Egypt, according to Charles Rollin (225), when somebody died, the family members and friends would put on mourning and abstain from baths, wine etc for forty days, with respect to the quality of the deceased person. The body would be embalmed then with the help of many people. After that, it would be returned to the relatives to preserve it in a befitting chest in the grave or the house. This approach of the people highlighted the respect they gave to the dead. Adherence to such bonds and keeping it very strongly and dearly was the key principle on which the society was founded.
The children on seeing the mummified bodies of the predecessors used to remember the virtues of them and were keen on learning those laws followed by them. However, the Egyptians would not praise the dead haphazardly on every deceased member of the community. When a person died, the public accuser would be summoned and heard. If the public opinion was against the dead to the extent that he led a mean life, the body would be condemned to deny the burial. But if the dead were virtuous the body would be buried with honour. The social set up during that time was thus well founded and error proof (Rollin 226).
In addition to what is stated above the burial places were treated as a sacred centre for the community remembrance and also for the formation of societal histories. From the irregularities seen in the arrangement of the burials as in the case of Heqaib cult in Gerz, it can be understood that it was a proof of deviation in the belief patterns. The evidences for the existence of social clusters such as grouping of children in the centre of the burial ground supports the interpretation that there was necessity for the ancient Egyptian community to confer particular identities to certain members of it. As such the spatial arrangement of the graves reveals instances of the growth of small scale or medium level micro traditions (Anderson 184).
The aesthetic outcome of the combination of striking objects found in the graves gives a noticeable picture of relationships maintained by the community between its members, places and objects. The accumulation of different, but valuable materials in the tombs indicates the existence of socio-economic traditions and certain ideological elements that determine the social identities which reflects the power factors (Anderson 187).
A brief account of Egyptian mummification
To understand the advancement of the New Kingdom in the matter of developing apt techniques and applications, the mummification process during the period must be discussed in brief. It is well known that the religious beliefs of the ancient Egyptians were focused on the identification of the capability of the dead to sail towards the afterlife. Salima Ikram (60) states that when the Old Kingdom wrapped the mummies in linen, plaster was applied on the linen to make a hard outer cover for the dead, to transform it as its image. The detailed and keen attention given to the mummy strongly reflected the Egyptians’ belief that the dead would need the wholeness in the life after death also, which remained the true integral part of the mummification process all along their burial history.
Thereafter, in the Middle Kingdom period, mummification progressed furthermore, and the internal organs were kept in the body itself by applying Natron stuffing (Brier 89), which was an indigenous natural organic substance consisting of bicarbonate and chloride of sodium (Harris and Weeks 82). This substance was very good for stuffing, as it was capable to remove any liquid forms from the dead body thereby enabling the stoppage of decomposition. They also removed the brain from the body by inserting an instrument through the nostrils of the dead, for they held the view that the brain was of no use to the body. In addition the eyes were allowed to remain closed by placing linen in the eye sockets. The resin was treated well so that it would become bacteria proof (Zeman 53).
The organs removed from the body were mummified and put in canopic jars. The priests held religious ceremonies and rituals during mummification, and the burial process that followed included weighing of the heart. According to their belief, soul was the heart itself and it contained the detailed record of the deeds done by the dead during the life time. That was why they weighed the heart in terms of the feather of truth before the life after death. If the heart showed less weight than the feather, the dead would be allowed passage to the netherworld of Osiris, and if it weighed more, Ammit would eat the heart. Ancient Egyptians were in the habit of adding amulets and the Book of the Dead with its spells to help the deceased to pass the heart weighing test (Anciv.info).
The Great Sphinx of Ancient Egypt
According to the mythology of ancient Egypt, the sphinx was depicted as a unique human headed creature having the body of a lion. But the Egyptian sphinx was largely depicted as male humans with a human faced ram head. The Egyptians regarded sphinx as the royal tombs guardian and as such the same was erected close to the pyramids. The face of a sphinx resembled the countenance of a pharaoh indicating the incarnation legend relating to the sun god. The first sphinx was erected during the Fourth Dynasty (272 BC-2563 BC). The largest sphinx is the Great Sphinx of Giza, which is a marvel of engineering and architecture (Hadingham 5).
The face of the sphinx was positioned towards east where the pyramid of Khafra was situated. Frequent desert winds and the inundation of the river Nile caused erosion of the several parts of its structure. However, it is believed that the sand itself has saved it from the desert winds and other natural calamities. Christiane Zivie-Cochie, the famous archaeologist states, “We are faced with a religious phenomenon that is entirely original, though not unique: a theological reinterpretation turned an existing statue into the image of the god who had been invented on its basis” (Zivie-Cochie). She holds the view that the adoption of Christianity by the Egyptians was the reason for the end of the religious role of the Great Sphinx.
The Great Sphinx of Giza was carved out of huge limestone, and as such the date of its construction cannot be ascertained by the radio carbon technique. The non availability of old Egyptian texts makes it impossible to find the exact date. But it is widely believed that it was in existence during the time of Khufu. Pharaoh Thutmose IV had a stone slab (granite stele) between the paws with inscribed text, but it dates back to the period before Pharaoh Menes who began the First Dynasty.
The people of this period were known as the Horus’ servants, according to priestly chronicles, but that indicates the Predynastic period of ca 5550 BC- 3050 BC. However many archaeologists share the opinion that the Great Sphinx of Giza was constructed in the Third Millennium BC which was the Old Kingdom period (King-tut.org.uk).
The ancient Egyptian burial practices were deeply connected with their ways of life, language, spirituality and aesthetic excellence. The anticipation of death was alarming to them and as such it seems they sought refuge in that inevitability, convincing their selves all the time that the complete submission to the death inevitable could not be the end, and the life continues thence on in another stage and another form in another time frame.
The culture of the ancient Egypt in its entirety was revolved around this spiritual thinking process. The inundation of the river Nile and its fixed receding tendencies engraved mixed feelings in the minds of the Egyptians and they weaved their religious belief in relation to the river Nile, the sole means of their survival against the odds. The whole environment and geographical prospects filled in them a constant affirmation that the inundation of Nile itself was the gift of gods they worshipped and its undisrupted presence instilled more confidence in them to conceive a spiritual philosophy to regulate the cycle of life and death giving it a unique pattern.
Having a close study on the burial practices and societal set up during the period from 3200 BC to 1200 BC, it could be concluded that there existed regional variation and unequal social identities along with economic imbalance among the ancient Egyptians. Despite these, the people at large are dependent on each other in the matter of their cultural identity which was based too much on the social and funeral practices. In generic, it can be seen that in an ancient community which was prone to the environmental changes, there would be a relative trend to exhibit social stratification and differentiation in the community infrastructure.
By refocusing on the slow but changing social relationships and practices of the ancient Egyptians it could be seen that there occurred a corresponding political, economic and cultural renaissance in the socio-religious domain. The changing symbolic, ideological and innovated social dimensions of the funeral rites during each period commencing from the ancient period till 1200 BC reflect the above views.
The elaboration of the funerary rites at different stages of time focused on their need to commit themselves to an afterlife for the dead. The increasing investment on the funeral practices in proportion to the individual’s social status would give the actual picture of the changing system of social hierarchy.
To conclude, it can be emphasized that the care the Egyptians had bestowed to preserve their bodies without placing them intact in the tomb would amount to harming the human nature, and to those dead who deserved respect in lieu of their virtuous acts during their life time based on their custom. It would be frightening for the living to see the remains of the dead mutilated and cut into pieces and mummified. It should be the cardinal rule of a community to guide its people to sanctify the very meaning of life, and its cycle of origin of life and death, to resume the process again and again, to complete the cremation in its full sense to mark the saying: from it you come and into it you shall return.
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