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A glimpse of ancient funeral practices

Throughout the millennia, world cultures have honored the passing of their beloved relatives and friends with countless unique rituals and customs.

In ancient cultures, such as Roman and Egyptian, one of the ways that families honored the memory of their loved ones was by holding special commemorative meals or bringing offerings of food to burial sites. In particular, the Egyptian culture is known for adorning the tombs of their loved ones and important people with numerous offerings such as food, furniture, decorative statues and other useful household items. They believed that the person’s spirit would need and use these items in the afterlife. Many of the objects and adornments inside the tombs, according to E.A. Wallis Budge in The Mummy: A Handbook of Egyptian Funerary Archaeology, are related to food offerings.

As Budge describes, the Egyptians were talented artisans and created beautiful bowls, saucers, dishes, vases, pots, flasks, jars and jugs to be used for presenting food, oils, perfumes and libations at the burial sites of their loved ones. Throughout the years, these vessels were fashioned in many different shapes, sizes and colors using a variety of materials, including clay, granite, diorite, basalt, porphyry, alabaster, aragonite, steatite, gold, silver, bronze, stone and wood. A glass paste, comprised of a mixture of flint, lime, soda, alkali, manganese and copper, was also used to make vessels. The items were usually inscribed with names, pictures, designs and other wording to honor the deceased.

The Egyptians also adorned the inside walls of tombs with paintings of their loved ones engaging in enjoyable activities, which included participating in large feasts. During designated seasons and times of religious observances, the Egyptians would bring edible gifts to the tombs, believing that the spirit of their loved ones would partake of the refreshments.

Date: Wednesday, April 11, 2012

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