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Home >> Across Cultures  >> An Egyptian saga of life and beyond
 

An Egyptian saga of life and beyond

Removal of the brain through the nose, organs cut out of the body, dried and placed in jars. The almost empty shell of a body stuffed with Natron and salts for soaking moisture. The dehydrated body cleansed with oils and wrapped in bandages, eventually lowered into the coffin and buried at last–mummification was never an easy process. But, the ancient Egyptians indulged in it nonetheless.

The ancient Egyptians believed in the eternity of life. A belief they willingly flaunted, leaving behind a legacy–of mummies and pyramids–for modern science to explore. Making elaborate preparations and constructing gargantuan monuments, this highly skilled and strong race left no stone unturned to ensure a great afterlife for their dead.     

Contrary to popular opinion, ancient Egyptians were never preoccupied with death. They were in fact, obsessed with life. Their strong belief that the dead would someday return to reclaim their bodies, made them one of the most optimistic civilizations to have existed.  

Mummification of the deceased remains one of the most fascinating and mysterious practices across civilisations till date.


Death, as a subject, has always stumped the human race, both literally and figuratively. Even after centuries of evolution, life after death remains a confounding topic. Some civilizations had the concept of heaven and hell. Others believed in the existence of the soul after the demise of the body. But the ancient Egyptians went a step ahead as they made an art of death.       

They believed that even after the Ka (Egyptian word for soul) left the body, it would return to it. But for the soul to find the body, it would have to be protected, and so began the complex ritual of mummification. However, it was not as refined at its conception. Initially, they would bury their dead in sand, the heat of the desert naturally dehydrating the bodies. But the wild animals were a threat, which is why the Egyptians started putting the dead in coffins. The moisture was a breeding ground for bacteria and the bodies decayed inside the coffins. It took centuries of work for the Egyptians to perfect mummification.             

Mummification of the deceased remains one of the most fascinating and mysterious practices across civilisations till date.

The Egyptians’ love for life was such that the preservation of the body wasn’t the only thing on their minds. Tombs were carefully prepared with furniture and treasures put inside. Life scenes, along with prayers and names were etched on walls, for it was believed that saying the name brought the dead to life. 

And, even though, disparities existed between the mummification of royals and that of the common public, the Egyptian sentiment pertaining to life and death remained the same. For over 3000 years, the Egyptians preserved life by indulging in the process of death. 

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