Ancient Egyptian culture had complex beliefs concerning death and the afterlife, which evolved over thousands of years. The Egyptians envisioned the afterlife as a continuation of one’s earthly life; death was not a final state, but a transitional stage in the cycle of life from the world of the living to the world of the dead. Egyptian belief encompassed strict protocols for burials and funerary rituals to ensure the continued existence of the individual in the world beyond.
Among these customs was the preservation of the deceased’s body. Through mummification, the corpse was transformed into a new body, destined to rise again. The preservation of the body was essential because it was believed that the soul and individual personality of the deceased continued to live in the body after death. Without the body, the soul ceased to exist.
The passage to the afterlife was complex and dangerous. The deceased had to pass a series of difficult tests, aided by instructions from the Book of the Dead, protective amulets, and talismans. Final judgment took place before Osiris, the god of the dead. In the final judgment, the deceased’s heart was weighed against the feather of truth. If the scale balanced, Osiris permitted the deceased to enter the Field of Reeds, a paradisiacal world of plenty. If the heart was heavy with sin, the crocodile-headed monster Ammit (Eater of the Dead) devoured the deceased and his/her afterlife ended in torment and shame.