From Pits to Palaces: The Evolution of Prehistoric Burial Customs in Ancient Egypt
2012-09-28 0:00

By Keith Payne | Emhotep.net

It would be easy to think that the ancient Egyptians, for all their amazing accomplishments in the arts and sciences, were morbidly obsessed with death. After all, what do you think of when you imagine ancient Egypt? The Pyramids: tombs. Tutankhamun: a golden mummy. Valley of the Kings: a cemetery.

But the truth of the matter is that the Egyptians were obsessed with life, and they fully expected it to continue on the Other Side. Just as we work, save, and invest for our retirement today, the ancient Egyptians prepared for their eternal retirement amongst the gods. Most of the art and artifacts connected to this planning, what we would call the funerary tradition and/or architecture, was considered to be the machinery of the afterlife, the tools and rituals required for the care and feeding of a departed spirit.

Ancient graves tell us a lot about a given people. The best preserved artifacts often come from tombs and their contents can tell us who is trading with whom, who is fighting and who is getting along, and how the social strata were arranged. The preparation of the body tells us about their beliefs and concerns, and the evolution of the tomb type (taphotype?) often parallels the evolution of the culture in question. How did the Egyptians progress from simple sand pits to Palaces of Eternity such as the mastabas at Giza and rock-cut tombs at Saqqara?

You may be surprised to learn how much we are learning. I know I was. At Hierakonpolis alone archaeologists and Egyptologists are tracing the evolution of funerary architecture from oval sandpits with no real superstructure to speak of, to mudbrick-lined rectangular affairs, to the earliest mastabas, complete with plastered and painted walls—all of this centuries before the first pharaoh. But we are getting ahead of ourselves.

If you think, like I used to, that nothing particularly interesting happens until the Old Kingdom, then venture forth, Gentle Reader, a new vista awaits. We’ll begin 55,000 years ago with the earliest human grave. It was found in… Egypt, where else?

Taramsa
Given what we know of the ancient Egyptians and their concern for the afterlife, it should come as no surprise that the oldest human grave so far discovered was in Egypt. In 1994, archaeologists digging at Taramsa Hill, located near Qena in Upper Egypt, found the skeleton of an anatomically modern human child buried about 55,000 years ago. Located near the future site of the Temple of Hathor at Dendera, the fragile skeleton had to be fixed with a solution of wood glue to keep it from crumbling to dust.


[...]


Read the full article at: emhotep.com





Tune into Red Ice Radio:

Ahmed Osman - Egypt & Christianity

Robert Bauval - Post-Revolution Egypt

Andrew Collins - Beneath The Pyramids, Giza Cave System Rediscovered

John Anthony West - Ancient Egypt






Related Articles
Mexico finds large, unusual Aztec burial site
Unique Burial: Bizarre ’cow woman’ found in Anglo-Saxon dig
The Muslim Faith: Rules About Burial of the Dead Body
Digging up bodies to resell burial plots
"A Will for the Woods" and Eco-friendly funerals
Stonehenge could be part of massive funeral complex
Death rituals in the animal kingdom
A Matter of Life and Death : Archaeosoup Productions
The Good Death: Making Death Part of Your Life


Latest News from our Front Page

Boris Nemtsov, Putin Foe, Is Shot Dead in Shadow of Kremlin - A Staged Shooting?
2015-02-28 22:37
NY Times: Boris Nemtsov, Putin Foe, Is Shot Dead in Shadow of Kremlin Mr. Nemtsov, a former first deputy prime minister of Russia, was killed in central Moscow in the highest-profile assassination in Russia during the tenure of President Vladimir V. Putin. A Staged Shooting? ... Why does the dead body of fitness enthusiast Boris Nemtsov have a pot belly? The Anti-New York Times doesn't ...
Holocaust, Hate Speech and Were the Germans so Stupid?
2015-02-28 20:31
Description form YouTube: This is an updated version of the video which was taken down by YouTube following a spurious copyright-infringement claim. It addresses issues regarding claims that Zyklon B in liquid form gives off fumes at temperatures below 0º C. As the world approaches the brink of a new Middle East crisis this time involving Syria, clearly at the behind-the-scenes ...
The Jewish Roots of Leonard Nimoy and What the ‘Live Long and Prosper’ Hand Symbol Really Means
2015-02-28 0:20
Leonard Nimoy first saw what became the famous Vulcan salute, “live long and prosper,” as a child, long before “Star Trek” even existed. The placement of the hands comes from a childhood memory, of an Orthodox Jewish synagogue service in Boston. The man who would play Spock saw the gesture as part of a blessing, and it never left him. “Something ...
Baby born still INSIDE his amniotic sac is hailed a ‘medical miracle’ by doctors [Video]
2015-02-27 22:46
What an incredible miracle… Not only was the little boy three months early – he was born inside his amniotic sac. I’ve never heard of this happening before. If you look at the picture, you can see him clearly with his little arms and legs curled up. He was still being given oxygen by his mom until the sac was ...
California Infant Dies after 8 Vaccines, Family Gets Him Back from Hospital Cremated
2015-02-27 21:55
Parents in California are distraught after losing their infant son after being vaccinated. He died in his sleep and was taken to the hospital already deceased. Hospital staff ruled his death as sudden infant death syndrome. The couple was told an autopsy was required to be performed on their son. After returning home, waiting to get an update, they never received ...
More News »