One of the most culturally significant and unique aspects of Ancient Egyptian society was that of mummification. Mummification, which is first recorded circa 2400 BC and reserved for the Pharaohs, was a ritual method of interment that had specific rites and meanings attached to it. By 2000 BC Ancient Egyptians mummified humans from all classes, as well as animals, and this had deep religious significance. The most important reason that mummification took place was to ensure eternal life. The Ancient Egyptians called the spirit ‘ba’. The ba would return to the physical body to inhabit it in the afterlife, hence why the body must be preserved for posterity.The process itself involved removal of the major organs, which were then stored in airtight jars called Canopic jars. Each organ would have its own jar. First, the brain was drawn down through the nostrils with an iron hook. Then the torso was slit open and the contents removed, and thoroughly cleaned and filled with aromatics. The corpse was then covered with a drying agent called natron for 70 days. Afterwards, the body was cleaned again and wrapped in up to 35 layers of linen strips, and soaked in resin.
Mostly the wealthy were mummified, for they believed that the process would ensure their arrival in the next life. They were buried with ornate funeral masks, the most notable being that of Tutenkhamen (c. 1341 BC- c.1323 BC), and were surrounded by objects required in the afterlife, such as food, drink and personal belongings.
Mummification of animals was also common in Ancient Egypt. However, unlike their human counterparts animals were mainly mummified after being sacrificed to the gods. The most numerous of these animal mummies were cats, having being sacrificed to the cat-goddess, Bast.
Art and architecture prospered in Ancient Egypt, due to the stable agricultural life made possible by the fertile land and abundant water provided by the Nile. Significant artwork created during the period included numerous wall paintings. These paintings depict various subject matter, such as religious scenes of gods and goddesses, as well as domestic scenes. Animals were also a prominent feature of Ancient Egyptian artwork. One such wall painting depicts a man using a hunting stick to hunt heron, a privilege held exclusively for the wealthy, while the family cat looks on. Fragments of murals found at Thebes depict the gardens of an upper-class family, providing valuable insight into the every day life of these people.
The most well known examples of Ancient Egyptian architecture are undoubtedly the pyramids, the most infamous being the Great Pyramid at Giza. The pyramids contained various tunnels and chambers, including funerary tombs. Religious temples are also significant works of architecture from the Ancient Egyptian period, again reflecting the great importance placed on appeasing the deities. Temples dedicated to religious cults were made of stone and had an open court, an offering hall, a shrine, and an inner sanctuary. Mud bricks and wood were used to build private houses; one such house that has been preserved at Dayr al-Madinah has a master bedroom, open-air kitchen, cellar, and reception room.
Other important artworks left behind by the Ancient Egyptians include sculpture, pottery, and jewelry, for example beads made of gold and semi-precious stones such as lapis lazuli, garnet and turquoise. Beautiful wares such as jugs, bowls and statues were fashioned from bronze and copper and were very ornate, often depicting motifs and inscriptions.
- Canadian Museum of History, (n.d.). Mummification. Retrieved from
- Encyclopaedia Britannica (n.d.). Egyptian Art and Architecture. Retrieved from