A tomb is simply a chamber in which the dead are buried. Some tombs
are cut out of rock, others are built above ground. The world's greatest
tombs- the pyramids-were built by the ancient Egyptians for their kings.
When ancient Egyptians began to bury their dead in tombs, they also
filled the tombs with carved and painted images. Egyptians believed
in the magic of images. If they could see something, it existed, both
in this world and the next. They filled their tombs with images of food
and other important possessions to make sure that they would continue
their comfortable lives in the spirit world. This carving is one of
the many scenes form the tomb of a government official named Ny-Ahnk-Nesut.
Look closely at the carving. Eight servants move form left to right
carrying offerings for the owner of the tomb. Can you find ducks? geese?
bread? flowers? How about a caged hedgehog? (Would a caged hedgehog
really make your afterlife more comfortable?)
Ny-Ahnk-Nesut was an important official in Egypt during the late 5th
or early 6th Dynasty. Most Egyptians could not have afforded such an
elaborate tomb. What sort of afterlife could they expect? Consider what
kind of people benefitted most from the Egyptian belief system?