Tombs in Ancient Egypt

  • Aidan Dodson
Reference work entry

An Egyptian tomb ideally comprised two basic parts. One was intended to house the body for eternity; the other was to act as the interface between this world and the next. These two elements could lie close to one another or could be separated by some considerable distance; they could also be of various constructional types and materials. However, the fundamental distinction remained between the mortuary chapel, or offering place, open to the public, and the burial chamber, intended to be sealed for eternity.

The public element usually focused on a stela, an inscribed slab that provided a point at which the two worlds met. It might be of simple form, bearing a depiction of the deceased (and perhaps his or her spouse) receiving offerings of food and drink, together with a ritual formula that guaranteed their eternal provision. On the other hand it might be an elaborately panelled ‘false door’ (Fig. 1), making explicit the stela's role as a portal between the worlds. In certain cases a...
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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg New York 2008

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  • Aidan Dodson

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