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Pitt ANTH 0538 - Egyptian Museum

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Arielle FernandezAnth Rec 12-12:501/28/15Egyptian Museum AssignmentThe Egyptian exhibit held many artifacts that presented as evidence for how Egyptians lived their lives. I will focus on their deathways and how Hertz, van Gennep, and Turner would have speculated these artifacts.If Hertz and Turner had seen the Royal Funerary Boat, they would have connected it to their observations. As for Hertz, he would have said that the boat wasused in a transitional period to link the condition of the body to the state of the spirit. The Egyptians would either carry the corpse in the boat on land or in the water. Egyptians believed their gods used boats for their daily trips across the sky. Hertz would say that carrying the bodies in these hand-crafted boat for their journeybetween the living and afterlife brings their body closer to the spirit. As Hertz mentions, “Until the body reaches a permanent state, the spirit of the deceased can’t enter the final world of the dead”. From Turner’s perspective, he would the Royal Funerary Boat as a symbol of a journey across the water. Turner did studies on the liminal period of transition, so he would infer that the Egyptians had this boat to carry the corpse between the living and afterlife. The Egyptians physically sailing this corpse across a watery threshold would seem as a symbolic gesture of a transitional journey between lives through Turner’s eyes.Another artifact seen was the Reconstructed Predynastic Burial Naqada. Hertz would have a few words about this considering it connects with his observation of the scale of funerary ceremonies reflecting the size of the tear in fabric of society. This reconstructed burial had the dead in pits dug in the sand with placed objects surrounding them that the family placed as grave goods. Some people could be identified as wealthier individuals that had a status in the community, with more elaborate burials and fancier grave goods. Hertz would state the fact of how funerals of people reveal their social statuses. Big funerals with more luxurious things showed a high social status of the individual in their past life, while a basic funeral showed a lower social class. Hertz would relate the lower class funerals to the “Potter Fields”, which were unmarked cemeteries.Seeing the Preparations for an Ancient Egyptian Afterlife display would have Hertz study it using his ‘Death is a Process” observation. Once a body was mummified, the deceased family collected the mummy for burial, then there was a funerary party consisting of relatives, priests, and mourners. After the tomb was sealed, a final banquet was held because they felt their life should continue after death. Preparations for the afterlife were important to them; making sure the body was protected physically and spiritually with canopic jars and such. Hertz would analyze this in a way saying that this process is intermediary because the individual is neither alive nor fully dead. He would say that the Egyptians thought of afterlife after death being full of life, as they were once living. He would claim that it is a transitional period, not the end because the end doesn’t exist to them.The kinds of information I would need to better understand Egyptian deathways, in which the museum did not have, would be things such as artifacts showing more connection of what the funerals and deaths meant to them and why they chose to bury the way they did. What is the true significance in mummification instead of a different way of burial? The museum could have shared more about howthey thought about the liminal period to understand their meaning of connection between the old and new status. The museum showed how their life was while they were living, and how they buried the bodies, but they vaguely described their reasoning and philosophy behind their


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