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Death and funerary customs of Ancient Egypt and Ancient China

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Sakith Gamaethige

on 4 June 2015

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Transcript of Death and funerary customs of Ancient Egypt and Ancient China

The whole process started with mummification. First the body was washed and then the internal organs, such as the liver and the lungs, where taken out leaving the heart behind.
A priest wearing a Jackal mask representing the god Anubis says some rites
Then the deceased person would be wrapped in bandages and decorated often with the person's face painted over the carefully placed bandages. The corpse, now called a mummy, is then put in a series of coffins, each inside one another.
Each one was described with magical text and symbols to facilitate to the afterlife.The pharaoh was buried inside a well decorated tombs (mostly inside pyramids).
The poor couldn't afford luxury and some where buried in the sand but the rich were buried in well decorated tombs. Some of the poor were wrapped in bandages and then put in the sand.
Ancient Egypt
Even before the death of the person has happened, a coffin is ordered during the time he/she is in the deathbed.
Before the corpse is put in the coffin, the coffin is washed and dried with a towel with talcum powder on it. The deceased is dressed in their best clothes that doesn't have red on it. White, black, brown or blue are the usual colors.
The family wails, cries and mourns to show respect to the deceased. Then the coffin is shut and bolted to separate the living from the dead. The cemetery is usually on a hillside.
Some rich persons would have tombs built for them and there they would be buried in their burial chambers.
Ancient China
In Ancient Egypt and Ancient China burials were done in an orderly manner and every person wanted their death to be done very well as they regarded death as life. Death was associated with going to the 'Afterlife' and living again.
What did the burials consist of?
Both of these ancient worlds buried objects for the deceased. They thought the deceased would have the same goods in the 'Afterlife' and could use them.
What were the deceased buried with?
In this presentation I am presenting about the 'Death and Funerary Customs' of these two fascinating ancient worlds.
Death always meant business for the Ancient Egyptians and the Ancient Chinese. This was mostly because they believed in the afterlife. Death was always taken seriously for one to live the next life better than the last.
Death and funerary customs of Ancient Egypt and Ancient China
By Sakith

Ancient China
Ancient Egypt
Corpses were buried in lots of places. It all depended on the wealth of the person. The rich people were buried well than the poor people and the rich could afford more.
Where were the corpses buried?
The rich were buried in tombs with deep pits and ramps.
The poor not have had a tomb and may have buried just in the ground.
The emperors were buried in luxurious tombs mostly built on mountain sides like the first emperor Qin Shi Haung.
Ancient China
The rich Egyptian were buried in tombs that were well designed.
The poor people were buried in sand which took the moisture out of the deceased.
The rich were actually buried underground and the Pharaohs were buried inside the Pyramids and in a burial chamber.
Ancient Egypt
In Ancient Egypt and Ancient China, the social pyramids played a big part for everything and even in the customs of burial and funerary.
In which way did the social pyramid influence these customs?
Ancient Chinese social classes were depended on education.
People on the top on the social classes like the Emperors had the best burial customs like tombs and grave goods.
People on the bottom on the social pyramid like the merchants and traders had bad burial customs like being buried without any grave goods or a coffin.
Wealthy people that were on top of the social class got well decorated tombs built for them.
Ancient China
Education was the key to improving a person's position in society and more education could make a person very wealthy.
People on the top on the social pyramid like the Pharaohs had the best burial customs like tombs and grave goods.
People on the bottom on the social pyramid like the farmer and peasants had bad burial customs like being buried in the sand and not being mummified.
Wealthy people that were on top of the social pyramid got 'Mustabas' built for them. Each 'Mustabas' would have two levels; one under ground (burial chamber) and one above (for offerings and prayers).
The Pharaohs built pyramids for their deaths since they were the highest out of the social pyramids.
Ancient Egypt
Tombs were meant to have a religious significance to its owner. Tombs were also meant to be the last resting place of the deceased, however, the person whose soul would live on in another realm.
In which way were the tombs set out?
Inside the tombs of Ancient Chinese people, artwork is displayed. These artworks display the heavens above.
The Ancient Chinese believed in the next life and the tombs artworks were displayed.
There were different rooms for each category such a room for weapons as offerings.
In tombs there were 3-5 rooms. Each with its own purpose.
Ancient China
The Egyptians believed that the tombs were houses of eternity.
When building tombs, builders would have to perform rituals for religious purposes.
All tombs had two essential architectural components that reflected their religious function – a burial chamber and a nearby chapel for prayers.
Terracotta funerary cones were inscribed with the owner’s name and placed above the entrance to the tomb.
Egyptian burial chambers were like secret galleries that were never meant to be viewed. They were packed with an astounding array of artwork which spoke only to an elite group of visitors – the gods.
Ancient Egypt
Did the people believe in Reincarnation or afterlife?
For the Egyptians, the 'Afterlife' was also known as the 'Field of Rushes' and the Egyptians also believed that Ka was a ‘life force’ sustained by the consumption of food and drink. The most important characteristic of the Ba was its ability to move.
They would have to go through the 'Underworld' to reach the 'Afterlife' and it wasn't easy. As it was believed, they would have contend with gods, strange creatures and gatekeepers. That wasn't all, they would have to reach 'Osiris' (god and chief of the 'Underworld') and the 'Hall of Final Judgment'.
For getting thought the underworld, the deceased was thought to be needing magic. That was why the 'Book of the Dead' was created. This book was buried with the deceased so it could help getting through the underworld.
In the 'Hall of Final Judgment', their was a two part process-
Ancient Egypt
The Ancient Chinese believed that life would continue after death. They believed that the spirit form of the person would live life normally like they had done before.
Many wealthy people, like emperors, bought their servants and officials to grave with them as they wanted their lives to be the same again in the 'Afterlife'.
This practice was done for about 600 years and then stopped. The first emperor, Qin Shi Huang, ordered a full army built out clay to protect him on the other side of the 'Afterlife'.
Ancient China
In both of these world, 'Afterlife or Life After Death' were believed in like most religions do today. People in Ancient China and Ancient Egypt believed that these lives after their death would be similar to the lives they had lived. These a big part of death for these two Ancient worlds
The deceased would plead for the approval to go to the 'Afterlife' from 14 divine judges.
The 'Book of the Dead' would provide the correct words for each of the judges.
This ensured the deceased would pass even if they were not completely honest.
The deceased heart would then be weighed against a feather of (the goddess) Ma-at on a golden scale.
If the heart was found heavier, it would be fed to Ammut (the 'Devourer'). The soul would cast into shadows/spirit.
But if the heart was found lighter the deceased would have passed the test and was taken before 'Osiris' who welcomed the deceased to the Field of Rushes.
The First Part of the Judgment
The Terracotta Army
The Terracotta Army was a life size army found in the tomb of the first emperor in China who was also known as Qin Shi Huang.
This life-size army was found by framers in 1976 who were digging a well.
These figures were made out of clay and the Terracotta Army held more than 8,000 soldiers, 130 chariots with 520 horses and 150 cavalry horses.

Vault One:
In the first vault contained 8000 life size soldiers and this vault was the size of an airplane hangar.
The soldiers were also with horses and they all face east.
Every soldier has a life size weapon and some are real. Ever soldier differs in social expressions, clothing, hair style and gestures.
The vault measures about 210 meters long and 62 meters wide and the bottom of the pit varies from 4.5 meters to 6.5 meters below ground level.
Vault Two:
Vault Three:
Wealthy people
Wealthy people could afford gold jewellery to be buried with them.
In the earliest periods of Ancient Egypt, servants/slaves were expected to commit suicide to serve their owners in the 'Afterlife'. This inhumane practice was replaced by little cravings of slaves in tombs.
The tombs of the wealthy such as pharaohs were big targets for tomb/grave robbers because of the loot made from rare materials.
The coffins of the wealthy were first made out of limestone but that quickly changed as this mineral dissolved the body quickly.
The coffin made out of limestone changed to make a coffin out of wood and stone.
Cases of royalty were made out of solid old or silver and the interior were made out of wood or metals.
The internal organs of the deceased were out in four jars each with a face of a god as a cap. These were called the canopic jars
Poor people
Vault two consists of 4 units measuring 94 meters to the west, 84 meters to the south and it is also 5 meters deep.
The first unit contains rows of kneeling and standing archers.
The second unit contains an array of war chariots.
The third unit consists of mixed forces of infantry, chariots and troopers standing in a rectangular array.
The four units form a rigorous battle array.
This vault is the last vault of the Terracotta army.
Vault three is the smallest one of the vaults.
In this vault it is obvious that it represents the commanding post.
All of the figures are officials many without heads.
There are 68 Terracotta figures in total in this vault.
In the earliest period of Ancient Egypt, poor people were buried in the dessert.
At the end of the period poor people tried to mummify their relatives as well as they could afford.
Poor people were buried with everyday objects and food.
Objects like pots and pans were buried with the poor.
The wealthy were buried with an ample objects they would need for the 'Afterlife'.
Family members and servants were sometimes sacrificed so the deceased would have them in the 'Afterlife'.
Poor people didn't get much to bury their relatives with but they did put some burial goods for the next life of the deceased.
Living creatures like dogs and horses were sacrificed so the deceased could also have them in the next life.
Bronze vessels, weapons, Oracle bones are some of the objects buried with the deceased.
A traditional Chinese coffin is rectangular with three 'humps'. the coffins can show the status and wealth of the Ancient Chinese. Jade was also common for it was thought to not decay the body of the deceased.
Canopy Jars
There were four Canopic jars each with the jar caps of four different heads of gods. The jar with a ‘Human head’ cap (this resembles the god Imesti) had the liver of the deceased, the jar with the ‘Jackal head’ (this resembles the god ‘Duamutef’) had the stomach of the deceased, the jar with the ‘Baboon head’ (this resembles the god ‘Hapy’) had the lungs of the deceased and the ‘Falcon head’ (this resembles the god ‘Qebehsenuf’) had the intestines of the deceased. These jars were put into a special chest which went into the tomb of the mummy.
Mummification of the deceased
Ancient Chinese coffin
Both of the parts of final judgment
The Terracotta army
Egyptian Amulets
Bronze vessels and other burial goods
Poor people buried with pots and pans.
Egyptian Canopy Jars
Soldier from the Terracotta army
Ancient Egyptian Social Pyramid
Ancient Chinese social class
Ancient Egyptian Tomb
Ancient Chinese Tomb
Pyramid of Giza (what the pharaohs built)
Burial site in Ancient China
1. Crosher, J, 1992, Ancient Egypt, Proost, Belgium, P-4
2. Association: ‘World book, 2009, Chinese of the Shang, Zhou, and Qin Dynasties, Chicago
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