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ancient egyptians, funerary offerings, neteru, material body

Egyptian Afterlife

Author: Lynn Bellair

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Ancient Egyptian's have left us several texts concerning the immortal part of a human that continues to exist through all time, independent of the material body. Because of the overwhelming pervasiveness of Christianity in modern American society we tend to think of this divine portion of ourselves as a "soul". This western soul is a single, sort of bodiless twin, which animates us, lives in human form only once and continues after death only in some spiritual location known as heaven or hell. This theory must be passed over to understand the Egyptian conception, it is quite different.
First and most important is that the "soul" principal is divided into at least eight parts, counting the actual body (#3 below), nine. Each was endowed with its own separate autonomous existence, characteristics and abilities.



1) Ka - The double that lingered on in the tomb inhabiting and animating the body or statues of the deceased. This portion of the spirit could move, eat or drink independent of a corporeal existence.



2) Ib - The heart, the source of good and evil in a person. It controlled the moral awareness and was the seat of thought and learning. It is the portion of the individual eaten by Ammut, causing total destruction and final death if it fails to weigh equally against the feather of Ma'at.



3) Khat - The physical body which normally decays after death, that was preserved by the Ancient Egyptians through mummification.


4) Khaibit - The persons shadow, it could use and enjoy the funerary offerings and was able to separate itself from the body and travel at will. Usually the Khaibit would not travel far from the body.



5) Akh - This was the everlasting divine spark, the radiant and shining being that lived on, the intellect of the deceased that was released by death and then ascended to the heavens to live with the Neteru or the immortal stars.



6) Sahu - The undestroyable spiritual body of humans that can live in the heavens. It appeared from the physical body if the judgment of the dead was passed and encompassed all of the mental and spiritual talents and abilities of the person in material life.



7) Sekhem - The life force of the deceased, that lived in heaven with the Akhu after death.



8) Ba - Depicted as a human headed bird that flew around in the tomb during the day, bringing air and food to the deceased. At night it was believed that the Ba traveled with Ra on the Solar Boat.






9) Ren - The person's true name. Naming ceremonies in Egypt were secret, and a child lived his whole life with a nickname to avoid anyone learning his true name. This was because the name held special magical qualities for the individual. One who learned it could wield power over the person or even destroy them.


Suggested Pdf Resources

Egypt Lesson Plan 2: Tombs and the Afterlife Introduction: This
Name: Date: Tombs and the Afterlife Fact Finding Worksheet Direct
Tombs and the Afterlife Fact Finding Worksheet.
Mummy Chamber - Brooklyn Museum
Dec 1, 2009 December 2009. The Mummy Chamber Installation Explores Ancient Egyptian Afterlife Rituals and Beliefs.
The Quest for Immortality: Treasures of Ancient Egypt exhibition
protection of mummification would help them reach the afterlife. Don't be fooled, though.
Throne of Weapons and Tree of Life Classroom Pack

Suggested News Resources

To Live Forever: Egyptian Treasures from the Brooklyn Museum Opens Oct. 7, 2011
One of the primary cultural tenets through thousands of years of ancient Egyptian civilization was a belief in the afterlife and the view that death was an enemy that could be vanquished.
Ancient Egyptians Styled Their Hair for the Afterlife
by Erin Podolak | 3:15 pm, August 18th, 2011 Everyone knows that ancient Egyptians headed into the afterlife looking their best. The beautiful garments and jewels found in their tombs centuries ago is evidence of this.
Archeologists discover Egyptian mummies styled with fatty hair gel
Now, archeologist s working out of the KNH Centre for Biomedical Egyptology, University of Manchester, have discovered that to keep hair looking good in the afterlife, a type of fat based hair gel was applied.
Ancient Egyptian Mummies Styled Their Hair with 'Fat-Based' Gel: Study
By IBTimes Staff Reporter | August 21, 2011 3:05 AM EDT It is a known fact that the process of beautification is an important part of the ancient Egyptian mummification process.
The despair that changed history
They did not make sordid and boastful claims, about how their homicidal actions would earn them a place in a gross fantasy of carnal afterlife. They did not wish to inspire hoarse, yelling mobs, tossing coffins on a sea of hysteria.

Suggested Web Resources

Egyptian Afterlife
Egyptian Afterlife! Visit this site dedicated to providing information, facts and history about Egyptian Afterlife.
Egyptian Afterlife Ceremonies, Sarcophagi, Burial Masks - Crystalinks
Egyptian Afterlife Ceremonies, Sarcophagi, Burial Masks.
Ancient Egyptian religion - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Egyptians had elaborate beliefs about death and the afterlife.
The Afterlife - Ancient Egypt for Kids
The ancient Egyptians believed in an afterlife. The afterlife was a heavenly place, complete with a heavenly Nile River.
The Egyptian Afterlife - Museum of Science, Boston
Museum of Science logo, Ancient Egypt Science & Technology, MosTIX logo.