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Research Project Proposal: Ancient Egypt

Imagine going back thousand years to find a land with pyramids, a river that floods regularly, and a rich agricultural society. Ancient Egypt had thousands of people wearing loincloths and the land was rich in limestone throughout the desert. It was a unique and fascinating culture unlike what we experience in the current countries. Egyptians had fascinating religious beliefs, especially about death and the afterlife. They strongly believed in the afterlife as they wanted to ensure a peaceful and happy experience. In the book, Death and the Afterlife in Ancient Egypt, Taylor says that Egyptians believed in the existence of the gods, the living, and the dead (Taylor, 2001). Primarily, they worshipped many different gods and goddesses, making it a polytheistic society. The gods were considered spiritual beings that determined the fates of humans. For example, the goddess Hathor was providing love and childbirth. They created a sculpture resembling a human body and a head with hones as the goddess Hathor (Taylor, 2001). Also, they had the god Khnum who was responsible for creation. He was portrayed as a divine potter modeling. 

Egyptians did not only believe in many gods and goddesses but also had a different view on death. Many people usually know that the death of bodies is the termination of selves; however, Egyptians believed that death is like changing to a different kind of existence. They took it as something to enjoy and rather than seeing it as an end. In other words, they believed life is a temporary stage so, death is a transitional period into an afterlife (García, 2021). Afterlife is eternal and life is transitional. To prepare body and soul, the ancient Egyptians made sure the afterlife was pleasant. They believed that man compose of the physical and nonphysical elements and six entities. The physical part was the body while the non-physical parts include shadow, name, spirit (ka), personality (ba), and immortality (akh) (García, 2021). The non-physical aspect of a man was the ka. In the book, Gardner’s Art Through the Ages, Kleiner says that the spirit was created during birth by the deity Khnum, who has a hieroglyphic symbol by upraised human arms (Kleiner, 2016). The ka is therefore described as the pillar of life. Hence, Egyptians believed that the ka would continue to eternal life once the body died. As the body disintegrates upon death, Egyptians found a way to preserve the human body so that ka could live afterward (Kleiner, 2016). They underwent the process of mummification to preserve ka statuses and the body. 

Figure 1: Egyptian Deity Khnum

Mummification began in the Fourth Dynasty BCE and was performed by embalmers through a remarkable procedure. Herodotus explains that the embalmer could first remove the deceased’s organs after the grade of mummification was identify by the people who brought the body (Abdel-Maksoud, & El-Amin, 2011). The finest grade was the best and most expensive, the second grade was cheaper, and the third grade was the cheapest and simplest. The embalmers agree about the payment with the people who brought the body. People such as Pharaohs were considered divine and powerful beings; therefore, they were treated with the finest grade of embalming (Abdel-Maksoud, & El-Amin, 2011). However, every grade used did not interfere with the heart of the deceased as it was considered vital. With the use of mummification, the view of death and the afterlife among the Egyptians was a unique and serious aspect of their culture. It cannot be compared to burial or cremation that is performed in present society. 

Figure 2: Mummification in Ancient Egypt



Taylor, J. H. (2001). Death and the afterlife in ancient Egypt. University of Chicago Press.

Kleiner, F. S. (2016). Gardner’s Art through the Ages: The Western Perspective, Volume I (Vol. 1). Cengage Learning.

Abdel-Maksoud, G., & El-Amin, A. R. (2011). A REVIEW ON THE MATERIALS USED DURING THE MUMMIFICATION PROCESSES IN ANCIENT EGYPT. Mediterranean Archaeology & Archaeometry11(2).

García, J. C. M. (2021). Egyptology and Global History: An Introduction. Journal of Egyptian History13(1-2), 5-10.

Mummification in Ancient Egypt. (2021, March 10). [Photograph]. The Magazine.

Egyptian Deity Khnum. (2021, February 12). [Photograph]. Pinterest.–351773420885671781/

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By Hanna Robinson

Hanna has won numerous writing awards. She specializes in academic writing, copywriting, business plans and resumes. After graduating from the Comosun College's journalism program, she went on to work at community newspapers throughout Atlantic Canada, before embarking on her freelancing journey.

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