The sun was ancient Egypt's principal deity. The sun's passage daily across the sky from sunrise to sunset represented the eternal cycle of birth, death and rebirth. The kings or pharaohs were seen as gods by the common people. The pharoh was in fact the god's representatives on earth, most commomly Horus. Egypt had an exotic pantheon of gods. One of the most important was Horus who is easily recognized because he is often depicted with a falcon head. It was the rituals and religious ceremonies overseen by pharaoh and the priests guaranteed the continuation of Egyptian civilization and indeed life itself. A pharaoh at death became imortal, joining the gods after a journey through the afterworld. The ancient Egyptians believed that both the body and soul were essential aspects of human existence, during life and after death. The Egyptian funerary ceremonies which so fascinate the modern mind, especially mummification and burial in tombs with valuable artifacts, served the purpose of assisting the deceased pharaoh find his way in the afterworld. It is of course the gold and other precious artifacts that capture the imagination, but a pharaoh's tombs were filled primarily with more mundane items such as food, tools, domestic wares, and other necessities of life so that the pharaoh soul's could naviagte the many dangers of the afterworld in comfort. The outward form of Egyptian religion seems exotic to the Western mind. In fact there are many aspects which were first adopted by the Hebrews and through the Hebrews modern Christianity. Here Akhenaten may have played an important role.
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