Ancient Egypt's Religion: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: David Wilson

David has taught college history and holds an MA in history.

Ancient Egyptians believed in life after death. This lesson explores religious rituals to prepare someone for afterlife, like turning a person into a mummy. It also discusses some Egyptian gods.

Belief in Afterlife

When anyone says the word 'Egypt', what immediately comes to mind? Odds are good that you either think of pyramids or mummies. But did you know these pyramids and mummies were related to the Egyptians' religious belief in life after death?

The great pyramids are places where pharaohs, the rulers of Egypt, went after they died. A pharaoh became a mummy and was placed in a tomb in the pyramid. Since pharaohs had special powers, they needed a special place for their spirit to go to the afterlife after death. Common people could also go to the afterlife, but they did not have a special pyramid.

Mummies

But before a dead person's spirit could go to the afterlife, they had to go through rituals, including the mummification process. Egyptian religion taught that a body must remain altogether in one piece after death. Egyptians believed that each person had three parts to their soul, which they named ka, ba, and akh. This is the reason why Egyptians believed everybody had to become a mummy, to keep the three parts together.

To become a mummy, Egyptians removed internal organs from the body, even removing the brain from the nose with a long spoon. By packing the body with salt, it stayed intact. The only organ that would stay in the body was the heart.

Entering Afterlife

After someone died and became a mummy, that person would meet the death god Anubis. Anubis would weigh their heart against a feather that represented the truth about how good or bad a person was during their life. If a heart was too heavy because the person did a lot of sins, it would drop into the mouth of a hungry demon. If the heart was lighter than the feather because the person was good, they could go to the afterlife.

The weighing of the heart
Weighing heart

Worshiping the Gods

So what kinds of things made a person's life good, or bad? One bad thing to do was pollute the Nile River, since it was a sacred river. One example of good behavior was worshiping the gods. Egyptians didn't just believe in one god though. They believed in many gods, and each god had special powers over the nature and the animals.

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