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Herget 034 - A Middle Kingdom Brewery | by frostbackt
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Herget 034 - A Middle Kingdom Brewery



There were plenty of amulets in the tombs of the wealthy, but that's because they believed in magic. If you were afraid of drowning, you wore a tiny amulet shaped like a herdsman's bundled-reed life-preserver. If you wanted a lasting marriage, you wore a small amulet that featured two crows, because crows mate for life. No matter what you needed, there was an amulet for it. A green 'heart' scarab was usually added - not to protect the mummy's heart, but to keep it from tattling on its owner during the Final Judgment. If they couldn't afford expensive amulets, there were ones made of clay or wood.


Amulets were wrapped with the mummy, for use in the afterlife. Many of them may have been funerary gifts. In any event, there was no point in leaving any of them behind, since "the voyage to the west," as the Egyptians called it, was a one-way journey. They reasoned that you never knew how much magic you'd need in eternity, so they wore far more amulets in death than they ever did in life.


The tomb paintings that we so admire were also supposed to perform magical services. Typically, there were scenes of hunting game animals for food. Then there were scenes of the harvest and the preparation of various foods. Last but not least, there were scenes of fabulous banquets with an abundance of food and drink. While many describe the Egyptians as morbidly obsessed with death, their tomb art shows that they were actually obsessed with food.


The Nile only flooded to the proper level about every second year, on average. Too low or high a flood could mean a disastrous loss of food production. In the chaos that marked years of famine, the lives of even the wealthiest Egyptians were at risk. These tomb scenes don't tell us what living in ancient Egypt was like as much as they tell us what each Egyptian hoped their personal afterlife could be, and - based on a lifetime of sad experiences - what they feared it might become.

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Taken on June 10, 2013