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Death in Ancient Egyptian Culture Essay

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Every individual experiences the act of death, and most persons experience the death of someone they know of. Whether family, kin, or someone infamous, the living deal with the process of dying. Anthropology seeks to understand the universal process of death ritual and how different cultures deal with death differently. An anthropologist can extract social values of a given culture, past or present, from how death ceremony is practiced. Such values could be regarding political hierarchy or an individual’s status in a society, and about a culture’s spiritual or religious faith. By exploring death ceremony in ancient Egypt, contemporary Hindu death practice in India, and current North American funerary rites, it can be illustrated that anthropology is conducive for providing clarity to a culture’s social division of strata and spiritual beliefs by analyzing death ritual. Universally, these rituals are ultimately designed for the living, who almost collectively seek longevity of life and immortality of being.
Ancient Egypt is well-known for its ritual and care revolving around the process of death and the movement from physical being into the afterlife. Preparations for death were planned substantially far in advance (Murnane in Obayashi, 1992, p. 35). From this an anthropologist could gather that death and the process of dying were valued and of high importance to ancient Egyptians. Such a claim can be made due to the astronomical amount of time and energy ancient Egyptians spent processing bodies via mummification as well as the mass burial chambers built for the deceased. Sarcophagi and burial masks were also made to honour and aid the dead to transcend into the afterlife. Anthropologists (often archaeologists) can verify whic...


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...ork, NY: Continuum.
Elmore, M. (2006). Contemporary Hindu approaches to death: Living with the dead. In K. Garces-Foley (Ed.), Death and religion in a changing world (pp. 23-43). Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, Inc.
Garces-Foley, K., & Holcomb, J. S. (2006). Contemporary American funerals: Personalizing tradition. In K. Garces-Foley (Ed.), Death and religion in a changing world (pp. 207-225). Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, Inc.
Huntington, R., & Metcalf, P. (1991). Celebrations of death: The anthropology of mortuary ritual (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.
Murnane, W. J. (1992). Taking it with you: The problem of death and afterlife in ancient Egypt. In H. Obayashi (Ed.), Death and afterlife: Perspectives of world religions. New York, NY: Praeger Publishers.
Olcott, M. (1944). The caste system of India. American Sociological Review, Vol. 9(6), 648-657.
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