Monday, January 04, 2010
The ancient Egyptians live in the rich and fertile valley on the river Nile, which flowed from Central Africa, in the south, to the Mediterranean sea, in the north. From around 3100BC, they built a great civilization along the riverbanks which lasted for almost 3000 years. Ancient Egypt was governed by 31dynasties (families) of kings, who were known as pharaohs. Pharaohs were believed to be gods on Earth.
Throughout their long history, the Egyptians worshiped many gods, each responsible for a different aspect of daily life. Their main god was Ra, the sun god. He was reborn every morning at dawn and traveled across the sky during the day. In the form of the sun, Ra brought life to Egypt. He made the plants grow and the animals strong. The ancient Egyptians called their pharaohs the sons of Ra. Pharaohs were said to be immortal, which that they would never really die. They were buried in vast pyramids and, later, elaborate underground tombs. Special objects and treasures were buried with them, to ensure that hey traveled safety to the after life. The Egyptians believed that everything in life was controlled by the Gods. They worshiped them in order to keep them happy and gain their protection. People tried to lead good lives so that after death they could enter the next world, which they called the Field of Reeds. They thought this was something like a perfect version of Egypt itself. To get there, first they had to pass through the dangerous Duat (underworld). Then they were judged by Osiris, god of the after life. If they had lived a good life and passed the test, they would live forever in the fields of Reeds.
The Egyptians paced detailed handbooks on their coffins to help them in this quest. These instruction manuals contained spells for the dead person to recite at each stage of the journey through the Duat. The most famous of these manuals is the Book of the Dead.