the cause of grief and sorrow. The pain of losing a loved one. That
is what death means to most today. Ever wondered what death meant
to the people of the ancient civilisations then?
ancient Egyptians felt that death in one world was the beginning
of life in another world. But in order to enjoy that life, the Egyptians
believed that their bodies must be preserved -- for, although the
soul left the body at death, it was expected to return to it throughout
eternity. All Egyptians who could afford to were embalmed, but the
embalmers exercised special care in the death of a pharaoh. So how
were the pharaohs embalmed?
are the steps to embalming a pharaoh.
P.S. Don't try this at home!
one: Remove some of the pharaoh's internal organs and fill the
body with sweet smelling spices.
Step two: Cover the body with a white powder called "natron,"
bags of which were also wrapped around the head. (Natron was a drying
agent, rather like salt, and the body was left in it for several
days, until all the moisture had been removed.)
Step three: Wash the embalmed and dried body -- now called a
"mummy", treat it with perfumed oils, and wrap it in linen bandages.
Place a mask over the face of the mummy and wrap it once more. Step
four: Bury it!
before placing the body in the coffin, the last rites were performed.
In this ritual, a priest, wearing the mask of the jackal-headed
god, Anubis, touched the lips of the masked mummy with a special
tool to open the mouth. This symbolic gesture was done to grant
the dead man the power to eat and speak in the next life. The mummy
was then placed in a series of coffins, one fitting inside the next.
And, in an elaborate burial ceremony, the coffin was placed in a
tomb stocked with food, clothing, cosmetics, furniture ... everything
the pharaoh might need to enjoy his or her afterlife. The tomb also
contained statues and paintings of servants, who were believed to
come alive when certain prayers were recited, thus extending their
service to the pharaoh even into the next world.
Greeks believed that when a person dies, his or her vital breath
or psyche left the body to enter the palace of Hades, the king of
the dead. The dead were buried in single graves, which were either
stoned lined or plain pits dug in the ground. The bodies of the
dead were either cremated first before burial or buried intact.
Along with the dead were buried gifts such as vessels with food
and drinks. Other gifts included weapons such as knives and tools
for the men, jewellery, clothes and spindle-whorls for the women
and finally toys for the children.
the ancient Chinese, they believed when a person dies, they would
be reincarnated into either humans again, or animals such as dogs
and pigs, depending on how well they had behaved when they were
alive. For instance, the good were believed to be reborn as human
beings into rich and prominent families, while the evil were either
reborn as humans who led lives full of hardships or as animals.
Thus, the people made many preparations for there next lives by
doing as much good to others as they could and also worshipped their
ancestors to seek their advice through priests, diviners and objects
such as oracle bones. The dead were buried together with their possessions
such as jewellery and clothes, which were believed to follow them
in their next life. For the dead emperors of ancient China, even
the queens and concubines were sacrificed and buried along with
the emperors to accompany them to the next life!
some of the ways of "treating" the dead include embalming the dead,
cremation, burials underground and water burials. The modern way
of embalming the dead is very much different form the Egyptians
though, the blood is drained from the body and replaced by a solution
of formaldehyde in water, called Formalin. Cavity fluid is removed
and replaced with a preservative of Formalin mixed with alcohols,
emulsifiers, and other substances. To make the body look more realistic,
cosmetics and other substances are customarily also applied to visible
parts of the body.
is pracitised by a lot people today, as it has been in the past
by the Greeks and the Hindus of ancient India. However, many religious
groups have scorned the use of cremation.
burial is probably the least common form of burial and perhaps,
not known to some people around the world. It is a form of burial
in which the bodies of heroes were cast adrift in boats. In the
South Pacific it was a custom to place the body in a canoe and to
launch it on the water. In the Western society, water burial is
usually carried out for a person who has died at sea.
are the other types of ways in which the dead are buried? Do you
think the dead today are still buried together with their possessions
or gifts of food and drinks? What are the different views towards
death by people living in different parts of the world?
ritual taking place
Bones used to tell the future.
mummy itself, after being embalmed and wrapped in cloth, was also
painted and decorated to resemble the person..
The lid of the mummy's coffin was painted with the features, dress,
and ornaments of the individual encased within it. These measures
were intended to preserve the personal identity of the deceased.
The coffin lid, made in about 750 BC, is that of Djed-Hapi.