Life and Death in Ancient Egypt

Essential Questions: How did religion affect the Ancient Egyptian belief of the Afterlife?

Ancient Egyptian religious beliefs:  There are many mysterious about Ancient Egyptian religious beliefs.  Experts are still working to completely understand the many aspects of the Ancient Egypt’s religious beliefs.  One thing that is certain is that the Ancient Egyptians practiced polytheism (“Poly” means “many”, “Theism” means “Gods) The Ancient Egyptians believed that everything that happened in their daily life was the result of actions taken by the gods.  In order to keep the gods happy. Ancient Egyptians built temples for their gods.

Important Gods: Ancient Egyptians worshiped many gods.  Most of the Egyptians gods were associated with animals.  Ancient Egyptians wrote hieroglyphs that depicted the gods with animal-like features or with symbols that represented them. For example,

Question – What can you learn by looking at the way Ancient Egyptians depicted their gods? Do the pictures offer a hint as to what the god is in control of?

Osiris – God of the afterlife and underworld, or the world of the dead… Unfortunately, Osiris was chopped into tiny pieces by a rival god named Seth, who was also Osiris’s brother…. 😦 Poor Osiris!  It was also believed that Osiris helped produce vegatation along the Nile
Isis – The wife of Osiris.  She was also considered to be the god of rebirth.  She also taught women to grind corn, spin cloth, and care for children. She was nice enough to find all of the pieces of Osiris body (After Seth chopped it up) and bring Osiris back to life.  Isis’s origins are still a mystery but it is believed her origins began at the Nile delta.
Horus – There are many different forms and duties of Horus. Pharaohs were believed to be linked to Horus.He was believed to be the guide and protector of the Pharaohs. 
Khnum – Controlled the flooding of the Nile
Thoth  – God of wisdom; patron of the scribes.  He also recorded the results of the weighing of the feather.
Anubis – Directed the preparation of the dead bodies for the afterlife
Ra – The Sun god.  Creator of the World.

Life After Death – The Ancient Egyptians believed that they, like Osiris could overcome death.  They believed in an afterlife that took place after life on Earth.  Ancient Egyptians believed that they could take and enjoy some of the same things they enjoyed in life into the afterlife. Ancient Egyptians also believed that a person had two spirits. The first was KA, which was the life force.  The other was the Ba, which is the soul. For a person to live forever, the Ka, and the Ba had to be united with the body after death.Before the Ancient Egyptians could get to the afterlife they had to prepare. The most important way to prepare for the afterlife is be living a good life!

Journey to the Afterlife – Egyptians had their bodies specially preserved for the afterlife. They hoped that their mummified bodies would last forever.


Step 1 – Mummify the body.

Step 2 – The book of the Dead – The Book of the Dead is a scroll filled with magic spells and prayers written on papyrus.  Ancient Egyptians hoped that these spells would help them on the journey through the underworld.  The scroll was kept in a statue of Osiris. Here is a link to information about the Book of the Dead from a exhibition at the British Museum. Question – Why do you think the scroll was kept in a statue of Osiris
Step 3 – The hall of Two Truths
 – A person’s heart was weighted against the Feather of Truth to see whether the heart was heavy with sin. A heart free of sin passed.  A heart heavy with sin was eaten by the monster Ammit, and the person  ceased to exist.  Question – How do you think this influenced the everyday lives of Egyptians?

Step 4 – The Final Judgement – The final judge of the dead person’s soul was Osiris, god of the underworld.

Question – What are some similarities/Differences between the way your religion prepares you for the afterlife and the Ancient Egyptians?

Now….Do you want to see a real life person go through the mummification process?

Life in Ancient Egypt – Religion was very important but that did not mean that the Ancient Egyptians did not enjoy a normal life.

Housing – Most Egyptians lived in houses with bricks made from mud from the Nile.   Since the Black Lands were fertile it wasn’t ideal to live on them.  Most towns thrived from living on higher ground set back from the river.

Eating well / Having Fun – Vegetables and fruit grew along the Nile.  Ancient Egyptians also used the Nile for fishing. Children ran, wrestled, swam and played ball games.  They played with dolls, wooden animals and other toys.

Beauty / Personal Care – Egyptians loved beauty.  Both men and women wore eye paint and wigs to make themselves more attractive.

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