F is for Funerals

The Funeral:

Funerals would start with the Funeral procession, where the embalmed body and coffin were taken in a procession to the western side of the river, where burials took place. Relatives were positioned at either end of the coffin, while two of the female relatives would act the roles of Isis and Nephthys. Some people in the procession would carry canopic jars or other things for the grave, while others were hired mourners, dancers, musicians or priests.

Taken from here

The funerary rites would take place in front of the tomb. The mummy is raised upright for the 'Opening of the Mouth' ceremony, which is performed so that the dead person can use their senses in the afterlife. Food and clothing are then offered to the dead person, while the mourners participate in the funerary banquet. The mummy is then places in the burial chamber, ready for the afterlife. 

The Afterlife:

The underworld was considered a dangerous place by the ancient Egyptians, but the spirit had to cross it in order to reach the Field of Rushes, the paradise awaiting them.

Taken from here

Once they have completed their journey through the underworld, they reach the Hall of Final Judgement. First, they must stand before 42 divine judges and plead their innocence of any wrong they committed during their lifetime. The Book of the Dead provided them with the correct words to use for each of the judges, therefore allowing them to pass this part of the process even if they weren't completely innocent.

Then it's time for the 'Weighing of the Heart' ceremony, where the heart is weighed against the feather of the goddess Ma'at. The feather was the symbol for truth and justice, and helped to determine whether the person had been virtuous. If the heart was heavier than the feather it was fed to Ammut, the 'Devourer', and the soul cast into darkness. The deceased passed the test if the scales were balanced, and was then taken before Osiris who welcomed them into the afterlife.

The Field of Rushes was a reflection of the real world. It had blue skies, rivers with boats for travel, gods and goddesses to worship and fields and crops that had to be ploughed and harvested. The dead were given a plot of land and expected to maintain it.


  1. I remember learning about the weighing of the heart ceremony in Primary school and being absolutely fascinated by it. I think it was on Watch, the schools TV program :).
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  2. I'm at an age when I receive junk mail offering to reduce my funeral costs so your Funerals caught my attention. I wonder how long it will be before cremation appears as 'historic' posts.

  3. So even in the afterlife, you had to work? That's no fun.

    1. Sounds better than the alternative...! ;)

  4. Another interesting post, Laura. Thanks! :)

  5. Their funeral rituals were very intense and elaborate, weren't they.

  6. That sounds like a lot of work for an afterlife. I'm just gonna sit here in Catholic limbo and catch my breath first...

  7. I can hardly imagine hiring dancers for a funeral...but whatever floats your boat, eh? (Especially if that boat ends up in your tomb with you. ;)

  8. Interesting post! Thanks for sharing. Happy A-Z!

  9. I learned about all this when I was in sixth grade and I found it so fascinating. It was at that age when I fell in love with everything about Ancient Egypt. :)

  10. So you had to farm in the afterlife? Doesn't sound like an exciting thing to do for all of eternity!

  11. I'm with Sherry. After working all my life, I'd hate to think I'd have to start plowing in the next.

  12. It does seem like kind of a rip-off that you have to work in the afterlife. Then again, eternity is a long time. Maybe you'd get too bored if you didn't have anything to do.

    I've always found the funerary customs of other cultures so fascinating. Thanks for sharing this!

  13. You certainly know your stuff Miss Laura, I sort of like the sneaky way in if you have been a bit naughty. . . . . . I must remember that.

  14. I didn't know anything about the funeral customs in Ancient Egypt beyond mummies, so this was really interesting for me to read.

  15. I feel like an entire fiction novel could be written about weighing the heart. It's weighed, and something isn't right. . . ;)

  16. Really, really interesting. It almost makes me wonder what the ancient Egyptians would think of our funeral traditions.

  17. I always learn something new from you. Makes me want to get a book on the ancient Egyptians. Or maybe write a story set in that time and place. Hmmm..maybe I can just read your blog all this month so I can get out of doing my own research!

  18. Another educational post. It's interesting how the Egyptian afterlife differs from the popular conception of the Christian afterlife.

  19. It almost sounds like heaven, hell and purgatory. Such an interesting custom for burying the dead and remembering their souls...

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  20. This is so cool. I've always wanted to know more about the funeral process for the Egyptians.

  21. I never knew about the field of rushes before- or that heaven included manual labor!

  22. I was going to say I remember learning about the weighing of the heart against the feather in Primary School. but I see my sis already did that ;P The opening of the mouth ceremony was actually something I learned about from Poltergeist The Legacy, of all things!
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