Afterlife of Egyptians, their beliefs and preparations

Egyptian afterlife was believed to be the improved version of the current life, in a perfect Egypt, a place of complete bliss, delight and peace. Naturally, with such belief there was traditional no fear of death, but rather, it was accepted that death is just a chapter in one’s life, one that is necessary to experience in order to enter the Egyptian afterlife, which was known by the names of “Field of Offerings” and “Field of Rushes”.

So much preparation was put into the transition into the afterlife that one could say that the Egyptians spent their entire living life preparing for their next life. Actually the way an Egyptian would live his or her life together with the preparations to enter the afterlife was the criteria for the judgement by the Gods.

The Egyptians believed that a human being was made up of a number of elements and upon death these elements would spontaneously separate. Consequently, upon rebirth, these elements would be reunited and this could only happen through the correct preparations in the current lifetime.

These elements were Ka (life force), Ba (soul), Akh (combined Ka and Ba), khu (intelligence), ab (the heart), the person’s name, Khaybet (shadow), Ikh (spirit), and the physical body constituting all of the elements.

Ka was the life force of an individual, which received nourishment from food and drink during the lifetime. This force is understood to have left the physical body at the point of death, however, it still required nourishment, which is why offerings of food and drink were made. Of course it was not expected that this life force would consume the offerings in their physical form, but instead, it was believed that the life force Ka would receive its nourishment from the essence of those offerings.

Ba represented the soul of the person and remained attached to the person following death. Through rituals the Egyptians would release Ba free of the physical body in order for it to be able to connect with Ka. Together, Ka and Ba, would be called Akh. The physical body however had to be preserved (mummification), because it was believed that Ba must return to the physical body each night, even if it is connected with Ka.

The journey to afterlife would begin with death following which the soul would travel to the underworld, where he or she would be judged by Anubis, the jackal faced God, and 42 judges and Gods in the Hall of the Two Truths. Here, the heart of the person would be judged in comparison with the feather of truth of Maat, the Goddess of Truth and Justice and if the soul would contain a lot of evil then it would outweigh the feather thereby dooming the soul to the Devourer of the Dead and stopping its journey to the afterlife. Otherwise, if the heart is lighter then the soul would be permitted to enter afterlife through the God Osiris together with all the possessions made through the preparations.

The possessions offered for the Egyptian afterlife would include all sorts of objects including cloths, cutlery, furniture, jewellery, statues, tools, etc and for items which would be too large to fit in the tomb drawings of the items were placed instead. But not only objects were part of the offerings. Servants, animals such as horses and house pets were also part of the offerings and, although it is not fully clear, it is understood that these were buried alive in the tomb.