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

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

Slaves of Charleston - Beyond Wealth of Jewish South Carolina
2014 09 15
Founded in 1749 in downtown Charleston, South Carolina, the Beth Elohim Synagogue is one of the very earliest synagogues in America. While other synagogues and congregations are also now a part of Charleston city life, Beth Elohim Synagogue is the oldest one in the area and serves as the repository for certain historical artifacts of Jewish life in the city. ...
Martian meteorite yields more evidence of the possibility of life on Mars
2014 09 15
A tiny fragment of Martian meteorite 1.3 billion years old is helping to make the case for the possibility of life on Mars, say scientists. The finding of a ‘cell-like’ structure, which investigators now know once held water, came about as a result of collaboration between scientists in the UK and Greece. Their findings are published in the latest edition ...
Swedish Surprise: Anti-Immigration Party Surges...
2014 09 15
Swedish prime minister Fredrik Reinfeldt Sunday’s election in Sweden was supposed to be a cakewalk for the Left. The Drudge Report ran a piece yesterday from the Guardian entitled: “Free-market era in Sweden swept away as feminists and greens plot new path.” The paper, a left-wing British outlet, published the piece the day before the election; it proved to be, well, ...
UK School to fingerprint students to ‘monitor their diets’
2014 09 15
STOURBRIDGE, England – A school is implementing a biometric system to better track what students are eating each day. The Express & Star reports students at Redhill School in Stourbridge, England will be fingerprinted in an attempt to reduce lunch lines and “monitor pupils’ diets.” The system requires pupils to press a finger against a machine which converts the print into ...
U.S. State Department Orders 160,000 Ebola Hazmat Suits
2014 09 15
The U.S. State Department has ordered 160,000 Hazmat suits for Ebola, prompting concerns that the federal government is anticipating the rapid spread of a virus that has already claimed an unprecedented number of lives. In a press release posted by Market Watch, Lakeland Industries, a manufacturer of industrial protective clothing for first responders, announced that it had signaled its intention “to ...
More News »