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Life After Death: Where do the dead go?

Some people consider going to Jordan river when somebody passes away. Greeks put a coin in the palm of the dead to pay for ferry boat while crossing the river to the underworld. Similarly, ancient Egyptians believed in crossing the Nile to achieve eternity. 

Since time immemorial, it has been believed in many cultures that the soul lives on in the afterlife, even though there were some who held a more modern belief that death would be the ultimate end.

Most Egyptians lived on river banks as farmers, and devoted their time in caring for and harvesting crops. Among them is a popular belief that during low river, three seasons for centuries even for millennia a quiet river flows once a year and whenever it goes angry, it can wash up the whole valley. A farmer watches the rising sun every morning and also gazes as it hides in the shadows of the west mountains every evening; believing that once there is no sun, there will be no grain or harvest, leading to famine.

Typically, when a corpse decays and goes through putrefaction, worms move into it. Thinking about this, a meditating farmer thought deeply, after every inundation the river comes, after every sunset is a sunrise, and from the dead body a new life emerges. Therefore, it created a belief that they must come back to life.

But, where then? Our ancestors never came back. Farmers think our ancestors come back to life but stay eternal in tombs, so tombs are the eternal homes, and hence, eternal premises must be made out of rocks while homes are made out of bricks. 

Many believe that the sun rises in east, so God must have been born in east. When the sun sets in west, it means that west is eternal seat of God. It is quite oracular if you think about it. 

However, if Sun god is always one, how could he die and then is reborn without a female sun? By that belief, he must be a hermaphrodite deity!

A farmer, having the time to watch all surroundings while awaiting the harvest season thought about a patron soul who may live in frog, cat or ibis, a protecting power could be in cobra, vulture, jackal, crocodile, or even a cow. Therefore a farmer was thankful for the benevolent patrons but venerated the harmful ones hoping to avoid their danger.

Why should the other life be different from our side?

A farmer thought an ibis on the west in the eternal premises must be there but should have another view, an original view rather than normal one. It was mere a patron soul just living in an ibis but there it would be a human with ibis head, a human with jackal head, a human with crocodile head, lion, cat or snake head.

Scarab beetle is a hermaphrodite animal, one piece puts eggs in dung ball, pushes the ball until it hatches and the young born scarab comes out. Farmers noticed it happens mostly when the new flood arrives and the scarabs flee from flowing waters pushing the balls, and as they do so, the young run out. So, this must be the sun God while young, it is the rising sun getting reborn by itself like a hermaphrodite scarab.

Re , the sun God grows up to be the noon sun disk while the setting sun God is going to die as an old man holding his crutch and begin his journey by night until he could rejuvenate.

A farmer thought this journey can't be easy. Life is not an easy trip so the eternal journey becomes easy. God must fight against enemies to win and return. Harmful snakes face him and good ibis support him. When he wins, the old man of evening converts to young beetle in the morning. When he wins, the dead ones come back to life and join the heaven bark of God, cross the life by daytime and join him by his eternal journey with the eternal dead.

Therefore, it is said that that is why they decorated the walls of tombs with all supporting depictions which help God fight and win, hoping to join an eternal journey. 

As long as our lives are short and our time in tomb is eternal, why shall we care about life? Tomb is the eternal premises and must be full of valuable belongings which last forever.

Believe in resurrection; Believe in reward and punishment; Believe in eternity after death as the Egyptian have for centuries.


Written by Abdulnaby Helmy - Egyptologist


Contributed By Abdulnaby Helmy


Contributed By Abdulnaby Helmy