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

West’s tributes to late Saudi King reveal hypocrisy not democracy
2015-01-27 2:16
Hypocrisy is not usually regarded as a virtue of leadership, yet judging by the gushing tributes paid to Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah by various Western governments and establishment figures on his death, there are those who believe it should be. In the UK this hypocrisy has been stretched to breaking point with the decision to fly the flags over Downing ...
Millions of GMO insects could be set loose in Florida Keys
2015-01-27 2:34
Millions of genetically modified mosquitoes could be released in the Florida Keys if British researchers win approval to use the bugs against two extremely painful viral diseases. Never before have insects with modified DNA come so close to being set loose in a residential U.S. neighborhood. "This is essentially using a mosquito as a drug to cure disease," said Michael Doyle, executive ...
Furguson Scared The Super - Rich So Bad They're Planning Exits
2015-01-27 0:22
According to a speaker at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Ferguson and Occupy absolutely terrified the world’s super-rich, and now they’re buying airstrips and farms in remote locations to escape to. At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, which was held between January 21-24, over 2,500 leaders in the fields of business, international politics, academia and journalism met to discuss ...
The Ring Of The Nibelungs
2015-01-27 0:20
Dark Kingdom: The Dragon King (also known as Ring of the Nibelungs, Die Nibelungen, Curse of the Ring, and Sword of Xanten) is a 2004 German television film directed by Uli Edel and starring Benno Fürmann, Alicia Witt, Kristanna Loken, and Max von Sydow. The film is based on the Norse mythology story Völsungasaga and the German epic poem Nibelungenlied, ...
Google Street View Shows NAACP Bombing a Hoax
2015-01-26 22:58
Caught in the act: NAACP passing off old soot marks as new in ‘bomb’ hoax NAACP Colorado Chapter President Henry D. Allen Jr. has been caught in the act of passing off old soot marks as new damage from the recent ‘explosion’ at the Colorado Springs chapter headquarters. Although Gotnews.com has previously remarked on the minimal damage as reported by the ...
More News »