Were the Egyptians preoccupied with death?

Essay by technobabe963Junior High, 8th gradeB+, May 2003

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Various characteristics of ancient Egyptian culture have intrigued historians and archaeologists, especially the values and practices concerning death. An exploration of religion, law and art could suggest that the ancient Egyptians were preoccupied with death. Further exploration reveals that this is not really the case and that the ancient Egyptians were essentially preoccupied with the afterlife and religion.

There is a great deal of evidence which exists which agrees with the suggestion that the ancient Egyptians were preoccupied death. The ancient Egyptians believed that paintings, carvings and models in tombs were there to provide for the needs of the dead in the afterlife. Reliefs were carved on temple walls to ensure that the gods would always overcome evil. Therefore the ancient Egyptians were not only preoccupied with death in art but the afterlife as well.

In law it's definitely obvious that the ancient Egyptians were preoccupied with death.

One example of why it is so easy to believe that they were is the official penalty for destroying a tomb, which was to be burnt alive. The ancient Egyptians believed that a dead persons heart was weighed against a feather if they were guilty they failed this test as their heart was weighed down by their bad deeds. The fact that the death penalty was enforced on tomb robbers for stealing ones buried goods or damaging a mummy's tomb meant that person's spirit may not survive in the afterlife supports the idea that the ancient Egyptians might have been preoccupied with the afterlife.

The ancient Egyptians were not preoccupied with death in religion. The ancient Egyptians had local gods, one for each city and most people prayed to these gods to make their city happy and wealthy. The ancient Egyptians also believed that the gods controlled...