Equipped for Eternity

I love public lectures, and I love taking notes – I still have my notebooks from my BA, and even I am sometimes amazed at how much I wrote in those lectures. I loved my degree. However, now I do not have one central place for my notes, and sometimes I lose them. So I figure – why not put them here? Easy to find, and other people might also find them useful. So, the first lot of notes, which reflect what went into my head and not necessarily what came out of the presenters’ mouth:

Equipped for Eernity: The Continuity of Ancient Egyptian Beliefs in the Afterlife. From a lecture of that name at the Melbourne Museum, 02/08/05

*The dead sometimes have gilded masks, because the gods were thought to have skins of gold, so this is drawing an association between the dead and the gods.
*Tombs, or “Houses of Eternity,” were decorated not with pictures of daily life, but of perfection – designed to provide for the dead forever.
*What was the role of the body itself, in their beliefs? Possibly, early on, it was thought to be reanimated. However, this idea slowly changed; they thought instead that it would be the ‘ka’, or animating force, that lived on – so the food etc is an offering to the ka.
** also the ‘ba’: spirit/soul/personality. Shown as a human-headed bird; can leave and participate invisibly in the real world. Must return to the tomb at night though.
** beliefs were always that you lived in the spirit world, so why all the gear? We don’t know. Perhaps, by pharaonic times, it was just keeping hold of old beliefs (c.7-6000 BC is the time of first identified beliefs).

*To be able to live for eternity, you must live an upright and moral life (because the heart is weighed against the Feather of Universal Order).
*Alexander takes over in 332BC; Macedonian rulers until 30BC. They make a conscious effort to Hellenise Egypt; native Egyptian ideas etc become very much inferior – you had to take on Greek ideas in order to get ahead in careers. However, the peasants did cling to their old ideas.
*When Rome is ruling, there’s a problem: for the first time, the ruler is not resident, which weakens greatly the idea of the divine king given to Egypt by their gods and Egypt being a chosen land. This made the other areas of their traditional religion even more important – to maintain national identity.
*As time went on, nobles – who previously absorbed Hellenistic ideas – began to take on/bring back more native ideas, themes. Tombs became less common, though – coffins started to take over this role. Bodies still were preserved, though, against the Hellenistic idea of cremation.
*This guy’s work in the el-Dakhla oasis (c. 800km from Cairo), and area annexed by Egypt in c.2000BC, and imposing their culture on the native people (don’t really know what happened to them), has been going on since 1978. First settled this particular oasis c. first century: hey-day until AD390s
**includes cemetaries; temples (eg with Greek and Egyptian paintings, on the same wall); houses
**appearances are kept up: grave goods and other things that make it look Egyptian. However (again): almost no one could read or write the hieroglyphics by the first century AD, so although they are there, they mean nothing. Also, the art of mummification is almost lost. Still, bodies are still being preserved, as per ancient beliefs.

* What really changed beliefs was the introduction of Christianity: no grave goods, no mummification; however, people still being preserved – a facotr in early Christian beliefs too.

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