How Did Ancient Egypt View The Afterlife


Ancient Egypt has long been known as a formidable civilization with a unique set of beliefs around the afterlife.The ancient Egyptians believed in a life beyond death, known as the Field of Reeds or Sekhet-Aaru, where they would be reunited with loved ones, enjoy joy and luxury, and gain eternal life. Ancient Egyptians believed that the journey to the afterlife began at death, and depended largely on their deeds in life. Thus, they prepared for death by accumulating wealth, passing knowledge to their children, engaging in rituals to ensure passage, and ensuring that their bodies were perfectly preserved and taken care of after death.

Funeral Practices

Since ancient Egyptians believed that the journey to the afterlife began immediately after death, they were focused on burial ceremonies as well as mummification rituals. Funerary practices were deeply rooted in religion, culture and traditions.In general, the journey for the dead was long and arduous – and it included tests, moral dilemmas, and other obstacles.It was believed that the spiritual process of mummification was the key to a successful transition into the afterlife.
This meticulous process included removing internal organs, treating the body with natron, bandaging and wrapping the body, opening the mouth, and placing objects such as beads, amulets, and statues inside the coffin. Magical spells and prayers were also recited during the rituals for the dead. It was believed that these rituals and spells would provide the deceased with the necessary protection to guarantee their safe passage into the afterlife, and that these objects would give them strength and courage to traverse the afterlife.


The ancient Egyptians believed that the deceased would pass through a place called The Hall of Judgement, where they would be judged by Osiris, the god of the dead. Each deceased was presented in their coffin to Osiris and a “second death” was inflicted on their heart, the very source of their being and worldly deeds.The heart had to be lighter than the feather of truth, otherwise the deceased failed the test and could not enter the afterlife.
The gods Anubis and Thoth were present in this Judgement Hall. Anubis represented the physical elements that ensured the safe passage of the deceased, while Thoth would verify the genuine nature of the heart of the deceased. If the heart was lighter than the feather, the soul was safe to ascend, while those found with a too heavy heart were devoured by Ammit. Ammit was the dreaded beast that was part lion, crocodile and hippo. Those that passed the test and avoided Ammit were rewarded with Zep Tepi, or the First Time. Zep Tepi was a paradise located in the Field of Reeds.

The Field of Reeds

The Field of Reeds was the second life where the dead regained new life.It was a paradise created to match the place of their highest desires.The souls would spend eternity in the Field of Reeds, rejuvenated as youth with access to food, love, and joy. The Field of Reeds was the Kingdom of the gods, and it was believed to be a place of abundance and wealth. It was a physical manifestation of the ultimate reward for a good life – eternal bliss.
The ancient Egyptians believed that the deceased were reunited with their families in the Field of Reeds, where they could spend their days in contentment and peace. The afterlife was described as an everlasting state, and the Field of Reeds was said to provide eternally prosperous and happy lives. Those who lived in the afterlife were forever rid of worries, sadness, and toil, and could explore the beauty of nature and the world with peace and joy.

The Books of the Dead

The Ancient Egyptians also believed in The Books of the Dead, which were written to provide spiritual guidance for the deceased in the afterlife.These books contained magical spells, prayers, charms and instructions on how to pass safely through the underworld.The Books of the Dead also provided instructions on how to navigate challenging obstacles, such as an encounter with the gods who would judge the soul. The books provided the knowledge and guidance to successfully navigate the journey and gain admission into the afterlife.

The Importance of Preparing for Death

The Ancient Egyptian view of the afterlife was one of preparation, for the time after death would be one of judgement and reward. Each person had to prepare for death by leading a virtuous life and amassing wealth and resources to enable a successful journey to the afterlife. The deceased had to also pass a final judgement to ensure a peaceful eternity, and it was believed that the rituals associated with death enabled this.The rituals of mummification and burial were incredibly important, as was the guidance provided by The Books of the Dead, without which the journey to the afterlife was perilous and uncertain.

Pyramids & Tombs

Pyramids and tombs were a representation of the soul’s journey through the afterlife, from this world to the next. Pyramids were believed to be gates to the afterlife, and the pyramid shape was seen as a protective and spiritual structure. Pyramids were adorned with protective amulets and curses meant to protect the body and bring peace, and they were made from durable stone to ensure that the body would remain safe within the walls for eternity.
Tombs were also an important part of the afterlife, as they were used to provide protection and sustenance for the soul as it transitioned to the next life.Tombs were filled with objects meant to offer comfort and solace to the dead, and priests lit incense and said prayers for the soul as it made its final journey.


In summary, Ancient Egyptians had a unique view of the afterlife, believing that the journey to eternity began at death and depended on the actions and deeds of the living. Funerary rituals and burial practices were of upmost importance, as they believed that these ensured the safe passage of the soul in the afterlife.The Ancient Egyptians also relied on The Books of the Dead and built protective pyramids and tombs to accompany and protect the soul on its journey.The afterlife was seen as a paradise, a place full of joy and abundance, and the Ancient Egyptians prepared for it with religious fervor and dedication.

Clarence Norwood

Clarence E. Norwood is an author and scholar specializing in the history and archaeology of ancient peoples. He has written extensively on the civilizations of the Near East, Egypt, and the Mediterranean. He has authored numerous books and articles on a wide range of topics, including the evolution of the alphabet, the rise of the ancient nations, and the impact of ancient cultures and religions on modern society. He has also conducted archaeological field research in North Africa, the Middle East, and Europe.

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