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How does tomb robbery fit with their religion?
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 16, 2005 4:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The stealing coffins and such is one of the things I don't understand. If the ancient Egyptians believed in their religion so much, how could they destroy some other persons immortality. Destroying the mummy in tomb robbing, taking the person's coffin or sarchophagus, even taking their tomb and removing their name. It seems rather cold. I just can't see how they could do it.

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PostPosted: Sat Jul 16, 2005 4:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

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The stealing coffins and such is one of the things I don't understand. If the ancient Egyptians believed in their religion so much, how could they destroy some other persons immortality. Destroying the mummy in tomb robbing, taking the person's coffin or sarchophagus, even taking their tomb and removing their name. It seems rather cold. I just can't see how they could do it.


As I said, many coffins were stolen so a poor family might hope to provide an eternal afterlife for their loved one who had died. I'm sure they felt guilty in committing such an act, but it wasn't so much out of maliciousness as it was out of concern and love for their dead relative. Bear in mind that when you visit a museum and see the beautiful coffins and glamorous burial goods, you are viewing the relics of just a microcosm of the ancient Egyptian society: the vast majority of their population was much too poor to afford such spectacular things, but they wanted the best for their loved ones, too.

As for the desecration of tombs and bodies and burial equipment, it's not too hard to understand. Just as with the modern world, not everyone in ancient times believed in the religion sponsored by their state. I'm certain there were atheists then, too, who simply didn't believe in the gods or afterlife. And the religion as it developed in ancient Egypt was largely for the benefit of the state, its nobles, its elite, and especially its king, who was the center of the Egyptian cosmos. That being said, many poor people may have felt diminished in the presence of such power. Plenty of those people were much more interested in the wealth of a tomb. They knew the terrible consequences that awaited them should they be caught, and their desecration of bodies in particular reveals the contempt some of these people must have had for their pampered rulers.

The people who wrote the annals of their country for future generations to read, hoped to leave an impression of a perfectly ordered and just society that revered and worshiped its royals. There's plenty of evidence, however, that not everyone bought into it! Wink
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 16, 2005 10:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I never for once could have thought there were non believers or even atheists in ancient Egypt-I thought that thinking in such ways was applying modern thought to an ancient culture who thought differently to modern day society. I always got the impression that all Egyptians were very devoted to their religion-maybe some of them didn't agree on the pharaoh on the throne, but they all believed in their gods and their afterlife. I have not seen any evidence showing otherwise-I thought the tomb robbing was, as kmt said in the first paragraph, to support the poor. But apart from Akhenaten, i have not seen any evidence of other Egyptians of any class, rich or poor, not believing in their religion.
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 16, 2005 11:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am certain there were atheists and agnostics in the ancient past. There's certainly nothing new about questioning the legitimacy of organized religion. Physiologically the brains of humans 4000 years ago were identical to ours today, so there's no reason to assume the opposite extreme of religious belief didn't exist back then.

The best example for me is the violation of the tomb of the 17th Dynasty pharoah Sobkemsaf I. His tomb was plundered in the 20th Dynasty, and we have the papyri that record the interrogation and trial of the tomb robbers themselves--around 45 of them were caught and brought to trial. They not only robbed the final resting place of this past king but deliberately burned his corpse. To me this clearly shows not only contempt for royalty but for the very religion they espoused--this religion, sponsored by the state, carefully spelled out the consequences to those who violated sacral rules. This I think is a good example of both greed and religious apathy, and it's only one account of many.
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 17, 2005 12:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Whoa, that is totally new to me. I myself always thought it was a bad idea to apply modern day principles such as atheism to ancient cultures, but maybe they weren't so different? I always thought they thought in a very different way to modern people. Now I'm confused.

Weren't there some gods who weren't 'state sponsored' and could be worshipped by all Egyptians? You give the impression that Egyptian religion was strictly for the elite. I'm sure there were gods and goddesses that the common folk respected and revered as well, even some of the gods with more royal connections.

I know that in the old kingdom, mummification and the ideas of the afterlife were strictly for the king, maybe for the priests and the wealthy, but in the new kingdom, it was available to anyone who could afford mummification, anyone had the chance to go to the afterlife if they deserved it.
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 17, 2005 11:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

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Weren't there some gods who weren't 'state sponsored' and could be worshipped by all Egyptians? You give the impression that Egyptian religion was strictly for the elite. I'm sure there were gods and goddesses that the common folk respected and revered as well, even some of the gods with more royal connections.


There were indeed such deities. Bes and Tawaret were two of the most common to be worshiped in the home. I gave an incorrect impression by not stating my point clearly enough. I should add that all major temples and major cults (e.g., Amun-Re, Osiris, Hathor, Isis, Horus) were sponsored or supported by the state, and even though Osiris was brought to the commoners during the First Intermediate Period, his cult and the burial practices that developed from it evolved from the Egyptian theocracy. Does this make better sense? You made a good point that required clarification on my part.

The democritization of the Osiris cult was a godsend (pardon the pun) to the people, but at its most practical level it was a vehicle engineered in the First Intermediate Period to help restore order to the chaos that was affecting Egypt at that time. And it worked damn well, too.

It may have had profound effects on much of Western civilization later on, for this was the first known instance in the history of religion where your conduct as a living person was directly tied in with where your soul would end up after you had died.
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 18, 2005 10:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

But I'm sure some of the common people might have worshipped the more 'state sponsored' gods if they wanted, or partaken in the temple festivals (because that's the only time they can go into certain parts of the temple)? It seems to me that the people of Egypt were not 'forced' to worship all the gods or certain gods, they chose who they wanted to worship-if they wanted to worship any gods. Am I right?

I'm curious-what exactly happened in the 1st intermediate period? Was it an invasion? A famine? Political unrest?
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 02, 2006 12:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, I think largely that the religion and typical gods that we associate with ancient Egypt were the state sponsored ones. They were indeed not the ones worshiped by most Egyptians. It wasn't so much they could not worship them as they did not want to, as they could not relate nor had they been brought up to worship them. The common people, apart from those who could afford magifnicent tombs, had other concerns than the elite, and other gods.

As for tomb robbery, it was quite common. It wasn't approved of, but people who may well have been conventionally religious if only in the ways of the common people did it anyway. Money has always been a powerful force, and it was so then. It may have overpowered religious fears for some. Of course, some who did it no doubt resented that privilege that they were destroying, and some no doubt had no religious beliefs to stop them, as well. But, in the main it was the pursuit of wealth thar drive people to tomb robbery. Ancient Society in Egypt I am sure did have its share of atheists, etc, as does any society, that's true. But I think they had less than our society does, as the afterlife mattered a great deal to most Ancient Egyptians.
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 06, 2006 11:53 pm    Post subject: One God Reply with quote

According to Budge and a number of other Egyptologists the Egyptians did believe in only One God. However they recognised each aspect and character of God and gave a different name to that part of his/her character, something in the manner of Catholic Saints. As a Creator they saw Ra as a Potter and so called him Ptah, As God of the Netherworld he was Uasar, and as God of Learning, Writing and Wisdom he was DHWT (commonly now referred to as Thoth. The two strokes for letter 'Y' added to the end, is the special adjectival ending meaning "Which Is" or "Who Is" - refer How to read Egyptian Hieroglyphs by Collier and Manley - thus 'He who is Dhwt - probably pronounced Dayhut - David).

Ymn seems to be a general name that encompassed all of these Gods - Ra being too closely thought of as the Sun. Remember Yah, Dhwt were both Moon Gods - becoming the Semite EL. Ymn definitely won through since people still address their prayers to him daily and have done so for thousands of years -'Amen'. I don't think Akhenaten ever did waiver from Amen, but tried to remove all images of God, and get people to think of him more simply, as The Lord. (Aten from which came Adhonai and Adonis). It is interesting that Akhenaten's name appears in Greek letters interspersed through the Copper Scroll of Qumran - one of the Dead Sea Scrolls AND the Scroll uses Egyptian numerals and weights - refer 'The Mystery of the Copper Scroll of Qumran' by metallurgist Robert Feather.
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 06, 2006 11:54 pm    Post subject: One God Reply with quote

According to Budge and a number of other Egyptologists the Egyptians did believe in only One God. However they recognised each aspect and character of God and gave a different name to that part of his/her character, something in the manner of Catholic Saints. As a Creator they saw Ra as a Potter and so called him Ptah, As God of the Netherworld he was Uasar, and as God of Learning, Writing and Wisdom he was DHWT (commonly now referred to as Thoth. The two strokes for letter 'Y' added to the end, is the special adjectival ending meaning "Which Is" or "Who Is" - refer How to read Egyptian Hieroglyphs by Collier and Manley - thus 'He who is Dhwt - probably pronounced Dayhut - David).

Ymn seems to be a general name that encompassed all of these Gods - Ra being too closely thought of as the Sun. Remember Yah, Dhwt were both Moon Gods - becoming the Semite EL. Ymn definitely won through since people still address their prayers to him daily and have done so for thousands of years -'Amen'. I don't think Akhenaten ever did waiver from Amen, but tried to remove all images of God, and get people to think of him more simply, as The Lord. (Aten from which came Adhonai and Adonis). It is interesting that Akhenaten's name appears in Greek letters interspersed through the Copper Scroll of Qumran - one of the Dead Sea Scrolls AND the Scroll uses Egyptian numerals and weights - refer 'The Mystery of the Copper Scroll of Qumran' by metallurgist Robert Feather.
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 07, 2006 12:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Karaum wrote:


Quote:
According to Budge and a number of other Egyptologists the Egyptians did believe in only One God.


And as we all know, Budge isn't reliable. Are there any of the current crop of Egyptologists that you can cite who claim only one god in AE? Some of the older sources were written by Eurocentrists who were projecting their own ideas onto the ancient culture and misinterpreting badly, so badly that ppl who have no access to current research are somewhat brainwashed. Smile

I would recommend that you read the works of Eric Hornung and Jan Assmann to get a better idea of current thinking. Their material is listed in a sticky at the top of this section.


Quote:
Ymn definitely won through since people still address their prayers to him daily and have done so for thousands of years -'Amen'.


Sorry, you're wrong. The similarity in words is nothing more than mere coincidence. Both Hebrew and Ancient Egyptian are 'unpointed' languages, ie they are both written in scripts that lack vowels. Modern scholars use their best guess to fill in the missing vowels, and in so doing, have innocently created confusion. Very Happy

FWIW, the Ancient Egyptian 'Amen' means 'The Hidden One' and the Hebrew 'Amen' means 'So be it'.
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 08, 2006 11:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, Budge seemed quite the scholar, but wasn't very credible.. Wink
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 11, 2006 6:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
As a Creator they saw Ra as a Potter and so called him Ptah, As God of the Netherworld he was Uasar, and as God of Learning, Writing and Wisdom he was DHWT (commonly now referred to as Thoth. The two strokes for letter 'Y' added to the end, is the special adjectival ending meaning "Which Is" or "Who Is" - refer How to read Egyptian Hieroglyphs by Collier and Manley - thus 'He who is Dhwt - probably pronounced Dayhut - David).

Ymn seems to be a general name that encompassed all of these Gods - Ra being too closely thought of as the Sun.


By claiming this you're risking the muddling of time and place. Ancient Egypt began as tribal peoples scattered up and down the Nile, worshiping their own deities from region to region (in many cases these regions would later more or less coalesce into what we know as the nomes).

By the onset of the dynastic period the varying religions compressed into a more complex entity. There was the state religion that served the socio-political needs of the administration (as was common in ancient times, including early Israel), and the more humble regional and community religion that was more familiar to individuals and families. Certainly the state and regional religions were mixed in some cases, but they served different needs.

As kat said, Budge is to be regarded suspiciously. He was a great man in his time, but by today's standards many of his writings are considered quaint and outdated. He wrote prolifically but allowed minimal editing before he was published. Few Egyptologists today would argue any sort of monotheism in ancient Egypt. A henotheism might be more aptly argued in some cases, but the ancient Egyptians were purely polytheistic--and it has to do with their tribal beginnings.

• Re was a great god of Heliopolis (ancient Iunu), a site now under the Cairo suburbs that dates to prehistoric times.

• Ptah was the main creator deity of ancient Memphis, not far from Heliopolis.

• It is not clear from where Osiris came but many argue he was an import from a foreign culture in prehistoric times; he began life in Egypt as a minor fertility god long before he became the prime lord of the dead. His cult center would later be Abydos in the south and Busiris in the north.

• Thoth probably rose in prehistoric times in Hermopolis (ancient Khemnu), in Middle Egypt, although he may also have had sites of veneration even that far back in the Delta. The Egyptians probably pronounced his name like Djehuty, with a "j" sound at the beginning, not a hard "d" as in the name "David." And this name is the Westernized version of a very common biblical name entirely separate from the ancient Egyptian culture.

• Amun is of course the main state god whose cult center was in Thebes. Although I believe the god Amun goes all the way back to the Pyramid Texts, he remained a very minor deity till the Middle Kingdom and did not become the main state god until the New Kingdom. Prior to this time in the Theban region, the war god Montu was probably of more prominence. It was in the New Kingdom that Amun became Amun-Re, a blending with the much more ancient solar deity to raise the importance of Amun in the state religion.

So all of these deities came from different areas and, in some cases, different times. In prehistory a person living in the Delta might have known of a god called Djehuty (Thoth) but almost certainly would never have heard of one called Amun. And in prehistory many may have known of a god called Osiris but it wasn't until later that this deity was venerated as the lord of the dead. Not much later, but later.
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 21, 2006 9:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I was reading "Ancinet Egypt Reference Classics" and David P. Silverman is the general editor, anyway there is a song in it that was sung at one pharoh's funeral and it is full of religious skepticism- i can't remember exactly what it said but something about where is the tomb of the architect imhotep and about not being able to take stuff to the afterlife.

I'll try and find it again and post it here-it's amazing

Apparantly pharaohs (the govornment) even robbed their ancestors tombs to melt down the gold and put it back into circulation in times of financial hardship! I find this amazing- personally it seems to me the only people who believed in the religion was the rich and the govornment....i mean every tomb in the valley of the kings was robbed except one- and even that one had an attempted robbing!

I mean if Akhenaten decides to have himself buried in the land of the living because he doesn't believe in an afterlife- personally i find this amazing for him to do, in a societly that is so big on religion, it's like the pope saying he doesn't believe in jesus.


Maybe he was just echoing the general population?His religion and the way he went about it makes a lot of sense after reading this thread.

It's a joke really all the robbery in AE, no ancient chinese would dare touch the chinese emperor's tombs so why did the AE think it's ok to burn a pharoh's mummy?!
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 21, 2006 10:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Chrismackint wrote:
Apparantly pharaohs (the govornment) even robbed their ancestors tombs to melt down the gold and put it back into circulation in times of financial hardship! I find this amazing- personally it seems to me the only people who believed in the religion was the rich and the govornment.

I believe it was a mixture of trying to enrich the country in times of need and protecting their ancestors tombs from further looting... Idea I know of Djutmose and Butehamun being appointed with this particular job; as follows:

Quote:
Approximately 1090 BC

Djutmose and Butehamun:
Djutmose inherited the title of "Scribe of the Tomb" from his father Khaemhedjet at the age of 33. Djutmose had a wife named Baketamun and a son and daughter around the age of 13 and 14 called Butehamun and Hatia. During the following years Butehamun was taught his father's profession, while his father was in charge of grain taxes, meaning he was sometimes required to personally travel away. Djutmose held this title during the reign of Ramessu (XI), but this was also a time of civil war causing a noticable plundering of tombs, and the job of recovering stolen goods and protecting the tombs fell to Djutmose and his son, Butehamun. This work was continued by Butehamun long after his father's death. All tombs that were located by Butehamun were checked, whatever remained of their grave goods were collected, and the mummies were re-wrapped. Coffins were stripped of their precious jewels and metals so that the mummies - in some cases - could be replaced into their coffins. The dead were then placed into caches with very minimal grave goods, this was to try to ensure their ancestors safety from further looting. The precious metals and jewels were kept, to try to enrich the country at this time of civil war. The restoration of this period is known because of inscriptions that were found in the wrappings of various mummies that had been re-wrapped, as well as after the - now empty - tombs had been restored, they were inscribed with the details of when the tomb had been opened for inspection, and by whom it was inspected, then they were resealed. Before Butehamun died in around 1056 BC, he had just attended of what was to be his last osirification of King Ramessu (III). Butehamun's eldest son Ankhefenamun, buried his father and continued his work. The works of this family of scribes during what were Egypt's difficult times, have proved to have been incredibly important to modern archaeologists, because without the mummies having been cached in ancient times, many of the bodies of the ancient Egyptian's would have been destroyed, and would have been lost to modern eyes forever.

Apologies, if there are mistakes in there ^^ as I wrote it myself, but you get the idea.

Chrismackint wrote:
i mean every tomb in the valley of the kings was robbed except one- and even that one had an attempted robbing!

The tomb of the architect, Kha and his wife Meryet was intact, and I reckon that there are many more out there to be found. Very Happy I'm not sure, but wasn't Queen Hetepheres tomb intact too??

Chrismackint wrote:
It's a joke really all the robbery in AE, no ancient chinese would dare touch the chinese emperor's tombs so why did the AE think it's ok to burn a pharoh's mummy?!

Ancient Egyptian commoners were probably just that poor at times, as well as them not necssarily believing in the gods quite as ardently. As for AE royals, though; I was unaware of them burning their own ancestors mummies. Confused
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