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common era



before common era - birth of christ


Pre-historic Periods

Neanderthal, Cro Magnon and Neolithic



People put food and tools in the graves with the dead – things people used in daily lives thus perhaps idea that people would need those things where they are going after death



burial site is stones surrounded by weapons and food – idea we find some type of effort to satisfy the dead and make them comfortable



burial took place in big caves and tombs


Agriculture societies depend on what?

- the earth to be fertile thus earth is mother goddess
o Sacredness of place becomes really important
o Theme of re-birth and renewal – triumph of life over death
o Population growth – farmers realized agriculture food could feed more people than hunting
o Systems of organizations developed with the settled agriculture life to protect the food that was just resting on land – lead to the creation of political units ie. Great Empires
o Ancient Empires idealized order


Death in Egypt

• among ancient empires, they all shared the divine king
o ruler was part of the divine order – critical link between heaven and earth
o another common institution of polytheism – the belief and worship of several Gods
o used to be many tribes settling along the Nile but eventually there were only two Kingdoms
• Kingdoms of lower and upper Egypt – both rules by one Pharaoh who wore a double crown symbolizing the ruling of both Kingdoms


What did the pharoah represent?

representative of Horus the sun god – hawk image
• Gods almost always represented as partly human and partly animal – generally animal head with human body
• Animals have spirit power
• Many component was sun worship – rising sun of morning, noon day sun, setting sun of evening
o Son of Ra – pharaoh as the human form of the sun God Ra
o Scarab represents the rising sun – represents life and protection
• RAM headed form represents the setting sun


Beginning Egyptian Story of Creation

• NUN – god of primordial ocean waters – when there was nothing but water
o From him comes first divine couple SHU – god of air and TEFNUT – life-giving moisture
• they conceived GEB – earth god and NUT – sky goddess - they want to be together but father keeps them apart – separated by SHU
• Thoth god got them together and NUT conceived Osiris (boy) Isis, Seth and Nepthys – they are all sister wives
• Seth kills Osiris and throws him in the Nile – Isis and Nepthys find pieces and puts him back together bringing him back to life – Osiris becomes lord of the death and king and judge of the underworld
• Created the first 365 day calendar


Four Components in the Ancient Egyptian Theory of Persons

1. Material body – of 3 types a. Living body
b. Corpse
c. Transformed, mummified body
2. Immaterial souls
a. Ka soul – spirit double / vital force / life force
b. Ba soul – animating spirit that leaves at death – human headed bird
i. Body had to be maintained for eternity – eternal life after death depended on union of ba soul with transformed mummified bodied that was continually nourished by the ka soul – all of them working together
3. Name of person – represented personality / unique spirit
4. Shadow or shade – ghost-like figure associate with the tomb – followed body after death


Funeral Texts in Ancient Egyptian History

1. pyramid texts (2500 BCE)
a. 3 possible destinations for a dead ruler
b. found in the pyramids built for rulers and other noble people
c. spells carved on the walls of the pyramid
2. coffin texts (2000 BCE)
a. democratization of the afterlife
b. found on the insides and lids of coffins of normal people
c. if you could afford to have the body mummified and right arrangements, would have the opportunity to stand in front of the judges and get afterlife
d. joining Ra or entering OSIRIS
3. Going out into the Day texts (1550 BCE)
a. Emphasis on judgement and eternal life in the Kingdom of Osiris
b. Available to anyone to be put into the coffin with the deceased
c. Came to be known in the west as the “Egyptian Book of the Dead”
d. These texts emphasize judgement in the hall or Osiris and eternal life in the Kingdom of Osiris


Entering the Kingdom of Osiris after death

• Series of tests and trials to enter the Kingdom after dead in the judgement hall in front of 42 judges
• Negative confession is made – here you say what you did right and to make sure that Osiris knows you did not do anything bad in life and are pure and are worthy of entering the Kingdom
o Justification as to why you should be let in
• After confession, heart is weighed on scale with The Feather of Maat – god of truth to see if you are telling the truth or not
o If goodness makes your heart light - that is good
o If your heart is heavy with sin, the crocodile head with devour the heart
• Real fear of ancient Egyptians was not death but totally annihilation from Osiris was fear
• Judgement was not one you could barely pass or barely fail, you have to be 100% pure



• Geographic location was much more open to attack and invasion
o It was a beautiful fertile land lying between two rivers
o Life was uncertain and dangerous for people living there
• Many different gods of different cities


Mesopotamia - Ishtar

babylonian fertility god


Mesopotamia - Marduk

ruler of the dogs


Mospotamia - view of the person and ideas of death

• View of the person
o Created from the mixture of the blood of a scarified god and clay
o Upon death, the person becomes bones and ghost
• Their interest in death seems very little and insignificant when comparing their culture to that of Egyptian culture
o Why the difference?
• Mes. Focused a lot on the life as here and now
• Lies in the way they understand death and what it means
• Life is where all pleasure, honour, meaning, happiness exists for Mes.
o Place of ghosts in Mes is called the underworld – the place of no return
o Image of underworld is not very appealing
- everyone who dies, goes to the underworld