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Ancient death customs

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The family bereavement

The family expresses its sorrow covering hair silt; each member hits his head with his left hand (hand of death). The men of the family do not shave for 70 days, which corresponds to the cycle of the star Sirius.


The first trials of Egyptian mummification date from about 3000 BC. Technique reached its peak in the sixteenth century BC. The body is taken to the workshop of mummification: the embalmers priests offer the family more series of mummies, more or less expensive.

The Book of the Dead is the set of papyrus containing magic formulas put inside the sarcophagus. The opening of the mouth of death symbolizes the return of ka in the body.

The body is lying on a bed of stone feet in the shape of lion’s paws. A resin is injected through a funnel into the skull. The priest saddled with the mask of Anubis, practice a cut to the left side (the vital breath in through the right ear and out through the left). It removes the viscera except the heart because it will be weighed by Anubis in the afterlife. The viscera are washed with palm wine and natron. They are kept in four canopic jars. It can also put onions in the body, a symbol of rebirth. Bath soda lasts about 70 days, as if the duration of the bath is too long the bones become brittle, so by cons it is too short, the skin and the bones do not maintain themselves long enough. Stitched the wound is covered with a small plate of beeswax or metal, decorated with a Horus (Eye of Horus, Seth removed and delivered by Thoth). The face is made up, a wig is sometimes asked. As soda destroys eyes and tongue, it must replace them with false eyes molten glass, stone, onions or gold leaf. It takes 150 meters of strips to surround the body of an adult. The last step is the installation of a cardboard mask, wood (rare, therefore expensive), plaster or gold-silver.


The first dates back to 3300 BC. (reed and small). On the cover, decorations represented:

  • Nut, with wings spread
  • wedjat eye that allows the death to see
  • a Djed pillar
  • the 4 Horus son
  • Isis and Nephthys goddesses.


Egyptians located the realm of the dead on the west bank of the Nile, where the sun sets: So they carry the dead body with a procession of mourners. The convoy brings gifts, food … The mummy is covered with flowers placed on a sled-shaped boat pulled by two oxen. Leading the procession is a priest dressed in a leopard skin which spreads evil spirits with incense, milk and water of the Nile. People are dressed in white, the color of mourning in Egypt. A second sled brings the canopic jars.

At the grave, with a adze, the son of the deceased touches the mouth, nostrils, eyes and ears of the dead so that he could regain his senses. This ritual allows the ka and ba to return the body. Then they usually sacrificed an ox. The widow embraces the mummy and gives him a necklace of blue lotus flower, symbolizing the sky. And then sealed in his sarcophagus with the Book of the Dead. Tents are erected at the grave for a banquet is an opportunity to taste the beef sacrificed. Guests wear a necklace of blue lotus flower.

For a soul is not wandering, he needed a home. If it was not set in a tomb and fed with offerings, it wandered incessantly and was soon to become harmful. She tormented the living, sending their illness and made frequent appearances at night to remind the living that they had to bury him.

This belief has created a rule of conduct. The death needing food and drink, they found that it was a duty of the living to meet these needs. In this condition, it protected all members of his family, tribe and even his village.

The use of professional mourners was common.

Translated from Wikipedia

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