Myth and Lore of Funeral Rituals

Welcome to the Myth and Lore of Greece and Egypt Room!  In these rooms, we look at myths and use them to explain and illuminate the archaeological remains of burials.  We will connect these stories to the material, promoting a functionalist approach, to shed light on these cultures.   Here you will find rooms filled with artifacts that reveal the stories and necessary steps associated with death and the afterlife in these two cultures.  We will take you through the burial and afterlife journeys step by step, comparing as we go, in order that you might gain a deeper understanding of what it would have meant to be an ancient Egyptian or Greek living and dying under the shadow of various and now-famous myths and stories that influenced funerary practice.

Congratulations!  You are a newly deceased ancient Egyptian pharaoh!  You may be concerned about what happens next.  Do you become immortal?  Do you disappear?  Fear not!  You have been preparing for this moment for your entire life.  The myths you are undoubtedly familiar with will provide you with the transportation, protection, and knowledge you will need to safely navigate the underworld and find your way to the field of reeds and resurrection.  Your family has been kind enough to finish your pyramid, complete with coffin texts, as presented in our first exhibit.

We do not wish to intimidate you, but keep in mind that your journey will be a difficult one.  The Book of the Dead will describe your task to you in detail.  Be forewarned; the gods you have come to know will be waiting for you and will test your ba and character and you must use the secrets of this Book to navigate these mythological waters (the weighing of the heart, etc.)  Visit our second exhibit for more precise instructions!

You are no doubt aware that you are in need of some form of navigation through these rough waters as you make your way westward.  Rivers are prevalent in the mythology of the Egyptian underworld.  Good thing you have a boat!  You can find your boat and further instruction in Exhibit 3.

At long last, you have made your way through this treacherous journey, using your burial goods and mythological knowledge to pass through countless struggles and trials.  The gods are there to greet you with good tidings and the ankh of life!  You have become Akh!  You have conquered the afterlife and become resurrected!  Exhibit 4 will tell you more.

Don’t fancy the Egyptian style?  Were you more tickled by the Greek comparisons than by the Egyptian ways?  Well, then we have just the thing for you!  The Greek underworld is characterized by its comparative simplicity!  While the Egyptians are required to provide ongoing sustenance to the ka,  Greeks are only obligated to make food offerings on special occasions!  It is necessary to make sacrifices at the funeral itself and at designated mourning times.  If you prefer wine, milk, and blood to conical loaves, duck, and barley beer, then this is the option for you!  See Exhibit 5 for more details.

As a Greek, you will have the option to cremate your body instead of mummifying it!  The fire may even immortalize your soul!  The stories of Semele and Prometheus might jog your memory of the divine nature of fire and burning.  Step inside Exhibit 6 for the fiery side of things.

And remember:

“What you do in life, echoes in eternity” – Maximus Decimus  Meridius


Markeisha Hill, Rohan Vaze, Chloe Nash, Emily Shames, Raphael Leitz, Sarah McCully

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