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Oriental Institute Virtual Museum

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Egyptian Gallery: Funerary Beliefs

The ancient Egyptians believed that after death, the deceased was reborn into an eternal afterlife. It was a pleasant existence, free from most care. To ensure that the soul of the deceased did not have to undertake any onerous work, the tomb was stocked with small models of workers which were thought to be able to undertake work on the behalf of the deceased. Various type of models are shown in this part of the gallery. Models of the Old Kingdom are represented by stone statues from the tomb of a man named Nykawinpu who lived about 2300 B.C. The figures are shown making bread and beer, and slaughtering oxen and fowl; all components of the basic features of the Egyptian diet. In the Middle Kingdom, models were most commonly made of wood, Several examples of wooden boats and complete workshops can be seen. By the early New Kingdom, servant statues were further simplified to take the form of mummiform figures, called shawabti or ushebti, many examples of which can be seen in the wall case. On the opposite wall of the museum is the 17-foot tall statue which is thought to represent king Tutankhamun. It was excavated by the Oriental Institute at Medinet Habu. To its right are examples of funerary stelae.

Detailed List of Artifacts on Exhibit


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Revised: February 19, 2007

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