Why did Egyptians mummify their dead? Christine Sullivan, Senior Editor at World Book Encyclopedia, explains why the Egyptians mummified their dead and discusses Ancient Egyptian life and culture.
The afterlife. The ancient Egyptians believed that they could enjoy life after death. This belief in an afterlifesometimes led to much preparation for death and burial. It resulted, for example, in the construction of the pyramids and other great tombs for kings and queens. Other Egyptians had smaller tombs.
The Egyptians believed that the bodies of the dead had to be preserved for the next life, and so they mummified(embalmed and dried) corpses to prevent them from decaying. After a body was mummified, it was wrapped in layers of linen strips and placed in a coffin. The mummy was then put in a tomb. Some Egyptians mummified pets, including cats and monkeys. A number of Egyptian mummies have lasted to the present day.
The Egyptians filled their tombs with items for use in the afterlife. These items included clothing, wigs, food, cosmetics, and jewelry. The tombs of rich Egyptians also had statues representing servants who would care for them in the next world. Scenes of daily life were painted on walls inside the tombs. The Egyptians believed that certain prayers said by priests would bring the scenes , as well as the dead, to life.
Many Egyptians bought texts containing prayers, hymns, spells, and other information to guide souls through the afterlife, protect them from evil, and provide for their needs. Egyptians had passages from such texts carved or written on walls inside their tombs or had a copy of a text placed in their tombs. Collections of these texts are known as the Book of the Dead.
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