Secrets Of The Egyptian Afterlife Revealed By HMNS Collections


August 24, 2018
178 Views

The journey to the Egyptian Afterlife is complicated and dangerous. First of all there are various evil spirits that will try to lead your soul astray and then there are the judgments. During one judgment you will be asked a series of questions by a council of 42 gods. Each question must be answered in a very specific way and if you get one answer wrong you fail the test. Another judgement involves Anumbis taking your heart out and weighing it against Maat’s feather of truth. Maat is the goddess of cosmic balance and justice, often represented in Hieroglyphic form by a feather. If your heart is heavier than this feather/goddess, that means you’ve been bad. Bad people’s hearts are devoured by Ammit, a devilish creature with the head of a crocodile and a body that has hippopotamus and lion features. 

To help the souls of the deceased find their way safely to the afterlife, Egyptian scribes would paint funerary spells on coffins. These texts essentially served as guides for the souls of the deceased. An example of spells like these can be seen in the picture below of a panel from the interior of a coffin dated to the Middle Kingdom (c. 2055 BCE – c. 1650 BCE) on display in our Hall of Ancient Egypt.

The three upper rows of carefully drawn and painted hieroglyphs give the name of the coffin’s owner, the lady Satmeket. Columns of cursive hieroglyphs below contain funerary spells, all beginning with the phrase djed medu-  “words to be spoken”. These particular spells are the answers to the questions that will be posed by the council of 42 gods. Basically this is an ancient Egyptian cheat sheet. The complete set of answers would have ringed the entire interior of Satmeket’s coffin. Briefer spells are also incised in the joints. These spells would have provided other forms of magical protection.

Funerary spells like these would have been expensive as most ancient Egyptians could not read or write and therefore only a select few in society had the ability and knowledge to write the spells, and they charged a premium for their services. In fact, in the Old Kingdom (c. 2613 BCE – c.2181 BCE) only the royals were allowed to use these texts. However as time went on, other ranks of society were allowed to use them, the only issue being whether you could afford to pay a scribe to write them for you or not. 

So there you have it. While infomercials today promise the secrets to success in this life for only six payments of $59.99, ancient scribes advertised something very similar for success in the next life!

If you’re interested in discovering more secrets of the ancient world, come visit our exhibit halls. There’s much more see!

Chris
Authored By Chris Wells

Adventure is my middle name. Well… actually it’s French. Literally, it’s Christopher French Wells. But the spirit of adventure lives in me, and has always inspired me to go out and seek new experiences. I’ve traveled to Europe, Mexico and South America, as well as few places in the U.S. I’ve seen different places with different cultures, learned some things about humanity and about myself in particular. My goal is to lend my unique perspective, carved out of my own triumphs and tragedies, fears and fancies encountered during my years of college and international travel, to the other great voices of this blog. Hopefully to the enjoyment of our readers…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Become An HMNS Member

With a membership level for everyone; Don't just read about it, see it.

View All Membership Levels

Editor's Picks What The Loss Of The Museu Nacional in Rio de Janeiro’s Collections Means To The World What Is The Deal With Brontosaurus?! Lou The Corpse Flower : Why He Smells So Bad And Why We Should Be Excited When He Blooms Wait Just A Minute! Let’s Take A Second To Talk About the Origin Of Time Keeping. The Krak Des Chevaliers: A Tough Nut To Krak Polar Dinosaurs Are Real And They Are More Adorable Than Elves
Follow And Subscribe

Equally Interesting Posts




HMNS at Hermann Park

5555 Hermann Park Dr.
Houston,Texas 77030
(713) 639-4629


Get Directions Offering varies by location
HMNS at Sugar Land

13016 University Blvd.
Sugar Land, Texas 77479
(281) 313-2277


Get Directions Offering varies by location
George Observatory

21901 FM 762 Rd.
Needville, Texas 77461
(281) 242-3055

Hours
Tuesday - Saturday By Reservation
Saturdays 3:00PM - 10:00PM
Saturdays (DST) 3:00PM - 11:00PM
DST = Daylight Savings Time.
Please call for holiday hours. Entry to Brazos Bend State Park ends at 9:30 p.m. daily
Get Directions Offering varies by location

Stay in the know. Join our mailing list.