The mysteries of life and death. Why was the afterlife important to ancient Egyptians?
Ancient Egyptians marked their passage into the hereafter perhaps more so than any other ancient society. Death was not simply the end, but a transformation, a rebirth, a necessary preliminary to the afterlife. Pyramids, temples, tombs, the burials of kings, nobles and the common people, all expressed the unique Ancient Egyptian idea of death and the afterlife.
Man was regarded as a complex being that could exist both before and after death in different manifestations, known as ‘Kheperu’. During life, the body was known as “Khet” or “Iru” meaning form or appearance.
At the time of death the corpse was known as “Khat“. When the corpse was transformed into a mummy, it was known as “Sah“. Mummification was considered the transfiguration of the corpse into a new body which was “filled with magic.”
Over the centuries the Egyptians conceptualized several different concepts of human survival after death. These ideas were first formulated to ensure safe passage for the dead king into the hereafter, but over time people of lower status were able to share in the same destiny.
Common to all of the concepts was the idea that resurrection was achieved through integrating the deceased into the natural processes of the cosmos.