Role of Symbols in Ancient Egyptian Funerary Rituals and Beliefs about the Afterlife The ancient Egyptians had an elaborate set of funerary practices that they believed were necessary to ensure their immortality after death. These rituals included mummifying the body, casting magic spells, and burials with specific grave goods thought to be needed in the afterlife. The ancient burial process evolved over time as old customs were discarded and new ones adopted, but several important elements of the process persisted. Although specific details changed over time, the preparation of the body, the magic rituals, and grave goods were all essential parts of a proper Egyptian funeral.Ancient Egyptian Symbols played a significant role in ancient Egyptian funerary rituals and beliefs about the mythical afterlife. They were used to protect and guide the deceased on their journey to the afterlife, to honor and invoke the aid of the gods, and to imbue objects with protective or magical powers. The ancient Egyptians believed that death was not the end of life but the beginning of a new journey, and they placed great importance on ensuring that the deceased had a safe and prosperous journey to the afterlife. Great works of ancient Egyptian literature like the Book of the Dead, book of the Gates, pyramid texts, funerary texts, and more contain a number of symbols that provide ancient Egyptian with the most incredible journey across both life and death.
History Although no writing survived from the Predynastic period in Egypt (c. 6000 – 3150 bce), scholars believe the importance of the physical body and its preservation originated during that time. This likely explains why people of that time did not follow the common practice of cremation among neighboring cultures, but rather buried the dead. Some of the scholars believe the Predynastic-era Egyptians may have feared the bodies would rise again if mistreated after death. Early burials were in simple, shallow oval pits, with a few burial goods. Sometimes multiple people and animals were placed in the same grave. Over time, graves became more complex. At one point, bodies were placed in a wicker basket, but eventually bodies were placed in wooden or terracotta coffins. The latest tombs Egyptians made were sarcophagi. These graves contained burial goods such as jewellery, food, games, and sharpened splint.